Why is it a common belief that all leaders, whether they are entrepreneurs, presidents, or civil rights activists, are extroverts? According to Carl G. Jung, extroversion is defined as the “concentration of interest on the external object” (Helgoe, 2008, p. 5). Furthermore, Jung states that introversion is described as the “orientation in life through subjective psychic contents” (Helgoe, 2008, p. 5). Given these terms, it is expected that one would assume leaders to possess qualities of an extrovert rather than an introvert to sufficiently carry out their responsibilities and expand their power. However, introverts are frequently underestimated in terms of their abilities. Introverts are typically much more attentive. It is essential for leaders to be good listeners to practice a system of democracy which enables fairness in a working environment. Another unique characteristic of introverted people is that they are often composed and collected, providing a comfortable setting. In addition, introverts prefer conversations that go into depth rather than small talk. This gives introverted leaders the advantage of making decisions with meticulousness. Thus, the distinct attributes that introverts possess are a source of great influence and power which contribute to the organizations they work for.
Assuming the role of leadership is a tough position; several characteristics are required. Perhaps the most significant quality a leader must have is the ability to listen and to be vigilant in doing so. Contrary to introverts, extroverts are characterized as outgoing and emphatic people. In a working environment and as leaders, extroverts are viewed as those who assert their power with bold speeches and communicating regularly with everyone around them. Despite general belief, leadership is not simply about presenting one’s self as the dominant figure. It is about observing people, listening to their new ideas, and taking them into consideration. Introverts possess the innate skill of attentive listening and observation. As Moore (2014) argues, introverts are patient with others and they wait for people to communicate their proposals prior to announcing their own ideas. In actuality, not many people have this particular skill. It is evident that everyone has the sense of hearing, but introverts take the time to process and analyze what they are hearing in depth to fully comprehend what is being expressed. For example, an introvert’s capability to take notice of what employees might have to say in a business meeting create a democratic organization which encourages workers to contribute more often. Moore (2014) explained that he has strived to become a more effective leader by “channeling his inner introvert” and hindering his tendency, as an extrovert, to interject with his own criticism (para. 6). To succeed in his attempt, Moore allowed his employees and their ideas to be placed at the center of attention. Introverted leaders proceed to influence their colleagues and peers on establishing respectable characteristics in the workforce.
There is a common misconception that introverts are a rare anomaly; someone in the shadows. However, more than half of the world’s population consists of introverts (Helgoe, 2008). It is known that individuals who are introverted prefer a calm environment and regular solitude. An introvert’s preference to be alone reading a book on a Friday night rather than socializing with a group of friends for instance gives them an inner peace. In this case, introverts possess the quality of being calm and collected which is advantageous in a leadership role. There are various introverted leaders which benefited from these particular assets: Barack Obama, Mahatma Gandhi, and Charles Darwin (Cain, 2012). With a composed personality, leaders such as Obama and Gandhi can lead countries with a positive outlook and when conflicts arise, remain untroubled. Similarly, Darwin’s calm nature may have assisted him in appropriately responding to harsh criticisms of his work “On the Origin of Species”, as opposed to becoming distressed. As Cain (2012) claims, “introverted leaders possess an inherent caution that may be more valuable than we realize” (para. 12). President Barack Obama is a prime example of influential introverts in roles of leadership. Being a composed individual means exuding calm. During periods of crisis, introverts will present a comforting and calm confidence as opposed to the overbearing confidence of an extrovert. It is Obama’s responsibility to keep crowds under control when conflicts arise. Therefore, introverts which often display composed attributes perform effectively in the position of a leader. With the embodiment of tranquility, comes the embodiment of power.
An important aspect of being a leader is forming unique ideas. Since introverts favor meaningful conversations over small talk, they are likely to delve into issues and develop concepts methodically. A study conducted by Nussbaum (2002, p. 188) concluded that introverts argue with a coconstructive style while extroverts are more conflictual in their communication. Nussbaum’s (2002, p. 188) statistics showed that approximately 5.53% of extroverts and approximately 33.95% of introverts made design claims. Design claims are defined as outlines of how resolutions must be planned. These statistics are evidence that introverts do not only seek solutions to issues, but also go into depth and outline every detail in order to be fully prepared. For instance, when a business meeting is conducted, the leader of the group has a few responsibilities: he or she would have to be prepared prior to the meeting, be impartial for all employees and colleagues, and focus on detail. It is significant to include that unlike extroverted individuals, introverts will not comply with one side of an argument and aim for convincing people to take their side. Instead, introverts and particularly introverted leaders will concentrate on in-depth analysis and attempt to evaluate solutions (Nussbaum, 2002, p. 189). During a meeting, the introverted leader will ask detailed questions and expect detailed answers. With these answers, they contribute by developing distinct conclusions of their own.
In a society where the qualities of an extrovert are valued such as skilled communication, a tendency for vigorous activity, or an authoritative attitude, introverts find a way to disprove the perpetuated stereotypes. Some of the most affluent and formidable leaders, from Barack Obama to Bill Gates and Rosa Parks, were and are introverts and this is no coincidence. Introversion supplies individuals with a myriad of valuable attributes including humbleness, a calm attitude, and methodical decision-making. Being an introvert, specifically an introverted leader, is an opportunity to consider things from a unique perspective and offer other individuals a source of influential power.