What Every Cocky Executive Gets Wrong: Introverts Make Good Leaders

By January 3, 2019 December 12th, 2023 Articles on Leadership

Last Updated on December 12, 2023 by Dave Schoenbeck

When you think of the qualities of a good leader, what comes to mind?  Someone charming and charismatic, one who delivers passionate speeches at company meetings and can always command an audience?  While we might associate these qualities with an extrovert, that doesn’t mean this is the only way to lead.

A man that looks like Clark Kent opens his shirt like Superman

Introverts and leadership might seem like an unlikely pairing at first, considering how much emphasis we put on typically “extroverted” traits such as friendliness, enthusiasm, socializing, and positivity.  But being introverted isn’t the same as being anti-social; introverts can possess all those good leadership qualities.

Introverts get energy from their alone time rather than being around others.  Introverts might seem shy or quiet and feel drained after spending too much time around people.  That doesn’t mean introverts are unfriendly—they need solitude to recharge occasionally.

As business owners, we tend to focus our energy on training those who best match our standard definition of leadership, but it’s a mistake to overlook introverts.  An introverted leadership style might look different than the stereotypical idea of leadership but is effective nonetheless.

Here are four reasons why introverts make good leaders after all.

1.  Introverts do well on their own.

One of the benefits of needing a lot of alone time is that introverts are great at self-directed work.  They don’t need anyone around to get things done; they’re comfortable and productive working independently.

Extroverts thrive in social situations, leading to less work due to chatting and other distractions.  On the other hand, introverts make good leaders because they give themselves plenty of time for focused solo work, allowing them to accomplish many tasks that would be harder for someone who can’t sit still.

2.  Introverts have great people skills.

While not known for being social, introverts can be very insightful observers.  Where an extrovert relishes being the center of attention, an introvert is much more likely to pay attention to the wants and needs of others.

A Harvard Business School study found that extroverted leaders tend to talk over their teams.  In contrast, introverts make good leaders because they are much more willing to listen to others and incorporate their ideas.  This critical leadership quality comes naturally to introverts, while extroverts must work harder at stepping out of the spotlight.

3.  Introverts are good judges of character.

Introverts tend to have much smaller social circles than extroverts.  They choose their inner circle carefully and are strategic with their trust.  Because of this, introverts have practiced the art of reading people.  Their introspection allows them to recognize positive character traits in others and to trust them accordingly.

4.  Introverts are great problem-solvers.

Extroverts are likelier to make snap decisions than introverts, who like having time to think over a problem before deciding on a solution.  However, as mentioned earlier, introverts are good listeners who are more patient when hearing every side of an issue than their extroverted friends.

With all of their introspection, introverts have a rich inner life that can give them perspective and help them reach a creative conclusion.  Introverts are good leaders because they’re more concerned about getting it right than with the most straightforward answer.

Overall, any leader must work on their weak spots regardless of whether they’re introverts or extroverts.  No personality type is more attuned to leadership than others; leadership takes work and is a muscle that anyone can strengthen with dedication and practice.  Introverts make good leaders for many reasons, but the best are those who make an effort.

I hope this article has challenged you to think differently about successful leadership styles.  I am convinced that introverts make good leaders.  I have over 30 years of experience developing future leaders, and if you need help with your team, please fill out my contact form, and let’s talk on a video call soon.

Coach Dave

Dave Schoenbeck
Follow Dave