What personality type is more likely to succeed in a leadership position? If you go by popular culture — television, movies, and books written by hero CEOs — you might think extroverts are natural leaders. Research summarized in an excellent article published by Wharton suggests a more nuanced answer.
Employees who are proactive and eager to have their ideas considered will be more productive with an introverted leader, who has the humility and patience to accept employee feedback. Extroverted leaders seem able to get more from passive, less group-oriented employees. This may explain part of a common business mistake, promoting a top salesperson into management. The extroversion that made the salesperson so successful may make her an inappropriate leader of other extroverts.
As a leader, know thyself and select followers that complement your style. As a business executive, consider the personalities of the people to be led when selecting their supervisor. If you already have an extrovert in charge of a group of proactive employees consider some executive coaching to help the extrovert become a better listener and more receptive to the ideas of others. If you have an introvert in charge of a department full of passive people you may need to find some other ways to motivate them to exert themselves and bring useful new ideas forward.
Tony, Thanks for the post. I’ve been reading a lot of articles related to introverts vs. extroverts. I’m not sure one is better than the other when it comes to leadership. Certainly, both have their advantages/disadvantages. . I do think the key as a leader is to be able to recognize how your people/followers are pre-disposed (i.e. introvert and extrovert), then be able to treat and motivate them they way they are wired. It’s not an easy thing to do – but hey leadership is not always easy.
For me the leader should be an extrovert and with an introvert advisors, because we introverts are not friendly so most people don’t like us and the people would not follow, but an extrovert who follow by crowds can lead by the guidance of introvert people who is good in thinking.
Solid points, Jeremy, and I have encountered confirming examples. A common pairing for a successful partnership is an extrovert with an introvert, a dreamer with a doer, sales/strategy spark plug with an implementer/systematizer.