In the study nearly 200 undergraduate business students were asked to complete personality tests devised by NASA. Before starting, they were asked to rate whether they would find it fun and exciting, or scary and stressful. They also rated each other for signs of emergent leadership during the task, such as influencing group decisions and leading conversations. Introverts showed less emergent leadership than extraverts and expected to experience more negative emotions and feelings during the group task.
While that makes sense, it does suggest that there is a pool of talented leaders out there who will never realise their true potential, just because of how they perceive things to be. That’s a shame, given there are many reasons why introverts actually make excellent leaders who bring out the best in their teams.
Introverts think, then act
Introverts never speak without thinking things through first. They are great at reflecting on how what they say will impact on others and be perceived. They don’t speak unless they feel they can add value to the conversation and you can be sure that their responses will be measured and considered. Yes, their meetings may be quieter than those facilitated by extroverted leaders, but they are able to cut through organisational noise to distil the important data and information.
Introverts like to dig deep
There’s nothing superficial about introverted thinking. They like to investigate and research to a level of detail that extroverts wouldn’t deem necessary. They listen and they love to ask questions – probing questions that get to the crooks of the issue. As leaders this results in a greater understanding and appreciation of what’s going on in their departments and a deeper grasp of their team members and what they are capable of.
Introverts are calm
If you’re working in a busy or stressful job, you need someone who can bring a sense of calm to the operation and the higher up the chain of command that calm is, the easier it is for it to exude across the whole team. Introverts are great in times of crisis and they won’t make a mountain out of a molehill, that’s why they make such good mentors and coaches.
Introverts like to plan
You won’t catch an introvert out through a lack of planning. Being prepared and rehearsed is one of the reasons introverts make such good leaders. They plot out scenarios in their mind before they happen so are very seldom caught out, plus their tendency to air on the side of caution means they have realistic expectations of themselves and their team members.
Let’s not forget, some of the world’s most successful leaders are self-confessed introverts, like Bill Gates and Mahatma Ghandi. So be sure to share this blog with the talented introverts you know and encourage them to achieve their true leadership potential.