Extroversion is the dominant style in the United States. As a result, we sometimes confuse leadership with charisma. Yet, research shows that not only are 40%-50% of CEO’s introverts, some of the more “famous” CEOs are also introverts, including Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Charles Schwab and Steve Spielberg.
Amongst entrepreneurs, the numbers are higher. Why? Because entrepreneurs frequently are the expert at their chosen business and experts most often are introverts.
So what does this mean?
First, recognize that extroversion/introversion isn’t binary. Most leaders tend toward one style or the other. Leadership, by its very nature, doesn’t attract people who live in extremes.
As with all style differences, start by celebrating and leveraging the differences in style. While other factors come into play in style differences, the key difference between introverts and extroverts is where they draw their energy.
Both introverts and extroverts seek input. Introverts tend to ask for feedback and then “go within” to think things over and make a decision. One thing to keep in mind about introverts – they aren’t necessarily shy, frequently just quiet – taking it all in.
Extroverts tend to think out loud, drawing their energy from the interaction with others.
Introverted leaders are frequently your “back of the room” leaders – they are calm, unemotional, and perceived as wise.
They are the ones that speak infrequently, but when they do, everyone listens.
Extroverted leaders are typically the “charismatic leader” – they are engaging, inspiring, and draw people to them.
If you are an introverted leader, leverage your natural strengths:
- allow yourself to pause and reflect before making a decision and let others know this is your style
- leverage your ability to build relationships with small groups inside and outside your company
- And, take note when it is time to access your extroversion to rally the troops inside your company or externally show up as an ambassador
If you are an extrovert leading introverted leaders, you can help by:
- giving the introvert time to think
- asking them what they think rather than assuming by being quiet they are not in agreement
- inspiring the introvert to step out of their comfort zone when it is time for them to be inspiring to the team
If you are interested in learning more about this subject, one of my favorite books on the topic is Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.
Let’s work together. You can learn more about my leadership coaching and peer advisory boards here.