Most of us would admit to having a default comfort zone somewhere on the scale, and if most of the time we are in one half rather than the other, we may brand ourselves introverted or extroverted. Considering leadership often involves working with groups of people, and needing to talk, not reflect, does that not mean that people who lean towards the introversion scale, are doomed to be bad leaders?
In my experience, I can point to three examples where introverted behaviour makes for a better leader:
- Introverts think before they talk. In a leadership role this can help to provide clarity rather than confusion. Very open-ended communication, where divergent and contradictory views are aired by the leader, may be refreshingly honest, but leave the team members feeling confused as to what is really being said.
- Introverts tend to listen more to what is being said, and can be more attuned to the non- verbal messages being communicated. Listening is an active and complex task, and it is impossible to be talking, or constructing a verbal response in your head, while listening attentively to someone else.
- Introverts experience risky situations in a negative way emotionally. This makes them naturally more risk-aware. Taking a calculated risk with known and quantified consequences is good management. Acting blindly and ignoring risks, because the sense of the unknown and dangerous involves a positive emotional response is how good companies end up going bust!