introvert vs extrovert?

How To Embrace Your Authentic Leadership Style

Introverts and Extroverts have strengths and weaknesses but the key to good leadership lies not in personality type but in a self-aware commitment to authenticity

Is introversion a barrier to leadership? Absolutely not. We live in an age that values authenticity. Individuals who are perceived to be genuine and true to themselves tend to be much more trusted than those suspected of hiding something behind a carefully constructed performance.

And for business leaders – and those aspiring to assume leadership positions – authenticity should be a key attribute. Good leaders inspire and guide their teams and trust plays an important part in enabling them to do that successfully. Managers who adopt a style that aligns with their own personalities and values are better equipped to win the confidence of co-workers. Honesty is the secret sauce. Regardless of whether you consider yourself to be an introvert or an extrovert. The best approach to leadership is to be yourself.

That’s the theory. In practice, there are a great many misconceptions about personality types and these can undoubtedly have an impact on career progress. To take just one example, the widely held but wrong belief that introverts are inherently shy may make it harder for them to secure promotions. In reality, shyness and introversion are two very different things.

Overcoming the Stereotypes

In a recent article, Bill Gates and Warren Buffer are “self-identified” introverts. There are countless other successful people who would say the same.

And when you look beyond the stereotypes and misconceptions, personality type is not an advance indicator of leadership success. Introverts bring certain qualities to the table as do extroverts. Rather than being shy or difficult socially, they are often reflective, good listeners and therefore open to new ideas and suggestions.

Extroverts can sometimes be criticised for being brash or overbearing. Again these are misconceptions or oversimplifications. The positive traits of extroversion include enthusiasm, a naturally outgoing nature and (in a business context) a love of networking. Extroverts are often extremely charismatic.

It’s also important to remember that very few of us are fully extrovert or introvert. We may be outgoing in certain circumstances and more inclined to show introverted tendencies in others. The key to successful leadership is to understand your own personality – its strengths and weaknesses – and use this knowledge to help you deliver on the goals of the organisation.

Strengths and Weaknesses

So what does that mean in practice? Well as individuals we all have our personal strong and weak points but there are some general observations that you can make around introvert and extrovert personalities.

Introverts tend to thrive in one-to-one interactions or conversations within small groups. They are more likely to listen than their extrovert counterparts. This enables them to pick up on the nuances of conversations. When coupled with deep analytic skills – another common attribute – introverted managers are often adept at finding out and understanding what motivates the members of their teams. This information can play an important role in optimising team dynamics and performance.

For their part, extroverts often take an overt leadership role within large groups. Their natural enthusiasm and energy rub off on others, pushing the team to work more effectively.

The respective weaknesses of introverts and extroverts tend to be mirror images. Introverts may struggle to be visible or establish a presence in large group settings. An extrovert might shy away from in-depth conversations, listen less and be disinclined to engage with detail.

So who is better suited to leadership? It’s all about context. suggests that introverts may be more suited to leading teams containing strong, highly-motivated personalities. Their listening and analytical abilities help them to conduct the orchestra. Extroverts might best apply their charisma to teams with more passive co-workers who want to be actively led.

That may or may not be the case, but it’s certainly true that introverts and extroverts can play to their strengths and take action to shore up their weaknesses in any situation.

Self-Awareness Matters

One key attribute of good leadership is self-awareness. By understanding their own strong and weak points, leaders can feel confident in their own skills. They don’t have to conform to someone else’s idea of what a suitable managerial personality type should be.

This opens the door to other important attributes of authenticity in leadership. By presenting a true face to co-workers, leaders are well placed to develop transparent relationships with others based on honesty and trust. This can be hugely important when changes are taking place with organisations and the intentions and thinking behind the decisions are being communicated to the team.

This openness also plays an important role in shaping the decision-making process. It is important for leaders to listen to and take account of a wide range of viewpoints. This is key to basing actions on balanced guidance.

Of course leaders are working to achieve the goals of their organisations and ideally the values of the manager and the business should be aligned. Again, this is a key element of authenticity.

Organisations benefit from a diversity of management styles and there is no single effective formula for successful leadership. But teams are at their most effective when managers deploy their genuine personalities and values to deliver on the objectives of their organisations.