Bill Gates, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and Marissa Mayer are all remarkable leaders – and introverts. Being an introvert is not a bad thing, although we tend to think of natural leaders as loud, extroverted and confident, the opposite might be true. Here are some reasons why being an introvert is not a bad thing!
1. Introverted leaders aren’t actually shy.
It’s a common misconception that introverted personalities tend to be shy, reclusive, or anti-social. In reality, the difference between an introvert and an extrovert is where a person derives energy: through alone time (introverts), or through other people (extroverts). Some of the most sociable people I know are introverts, myself included – I consider my Kindle an ideal Friday night activity and can rarely muster the motivation to stay out at a party past 10 p.m, but have no problem striking up conversations with perfect strangers. Curious about where you fall on this scale? I love this quiz by Life Hack.
2. Your passion is what defines you.
Where you fall on the extroversion or introversion scale has very little to do with your potential to be a great leader. In fact, the personality qualities that truly amazing leaders have in common tend to be related to their character, passion, and grit – the traits that influence someone to trust and follow you. Good to Great is one of my favorite books on the topic of effective leadership traits. It’s filled with insights based on results from a 5-year-long research project that investigated every company that has ever made the Fortune 500 list. The research found just 11 companies out of the 1,400 evaluated that sustained increased profits for 15 years or more, and linked the success to the behaviors of the leaders at those companies.
3. Introverts are more likely to be humble.
One of the major, counter-intuitive takeaways in the book is what made the leaders behind these great companies so effective: they were humble and strong-willed rather than outgoing; they deflected praise and credit to everyone but themselves, but were the first to accept blame for mistakes; they were often shy, but consistently demonstrated the courage to do what was in the best interest of the company even when considered risky by everyone else.
As I read this book, I realized that the great leaders that I’ve known in my career have so many people just like me who trust them and would follow them anywhere demonstrated these same qualities. It’s a great model for anyone who will be in a leadership position someday, regardless of whether they happen to be introverts or extroverts!
Have you worked with a truly amazing leader? If yes, please let us know what they’ve done to inspire you by sharing in the comments below!
By Colleen Bordeaux