There are often common misperceptions about the meaning of the term “introvert”. I hear people referring to a quiet and shy person as an introvert, failing to recognize that introversion and extroversion are measures of energy lost or energy gained by interacting with people.
For example, you can have two leaders who, through the course of their day, may interact with the exact same number of people, both can be equally energetic and outgoing, high-energy and personable, but at the end of the day the extrovert will want to go out for drinks with more people and the introvert will need some alone time.
We don’t often think of leadership in terms of introversion, however many charismatic leaders actually ARE introverts. Jennifer Kahnweiler wrote an article in Forbes about why introverts make some of the best leaders. Here are a few excerpts, and you can read the entire article here.
“It has been reported that a full 40% of executives describe themselves as introverts, including Microsoft‘s Bill Gates, the über-investors Warren Buffett and Charles Schwab, Avon’s chief executive, Andrea Jung, and the late publishing giant Katharine Graham.”
“Introverted leaders think before they speak. Even in casual conversations, they consider others’ comments carefully, and they stop and reflect before responding.”
“Learning by listening, not talking, is a trait that introverts consistently demonstrate.”
“Introverted leaders seek depth over breadth. They like to dig deep, delving into issues and ideas before moving on to new ones. They are drawn to meaningful conversations, not superficial chitchat, and they know how to ask great questions and really listen to the answers.”
“In times of crisis, they project a reassuring, calm confidence–think President Obama–and they speak softly and slowly regardless of the heat of the conversation or circumstances. Whenever they get ready for a meeting, a speech or a special event, their secret to success can be summed up in one word: preparation.”
“Introverted leaders are energized by spending time alone. They suffer from people exhaustion and need to retreat to recharge their batteries frequently. These regular timeouts actually fuel their thinking, creativity and decision-making and, when the pressure is on, help them be responsive, not reactive. When introverts honor that inner pull, they can do their best work. In managing interruptions, they also manage people’s expectations.”
There’s a video you can watch on introverts and extroverts in business development here: