Do you find groups of people exhausting or exhilarating? Does speaking to groups make you nervous or do you just go in and “wing it”? Your tendencies may be tied to how much of an introvert or extrovert you are. One style isn’t necessarily better than the other; they’re just different. While about half of us are introverts, many of the traits people associate with leaders, being dominant or good at giving directions, are traits associated with extroverts.

Recent findings by Harvard Business school researchers show that when it comes to the day-to-day teamwork so often required in today’s workplace, introverts actually have the advantage.  The research released in the Academy of Management Journal 2011 reports on the impact of leadership style and group performance. The researchers demonstrated that when employees are proactive, those who lead in a less extroverted style get better results.  More passive employees got better results with an extroverted leader.

What causes the performance difference?

Extroverts, being more dominant, drove conversations and were less receptive to new ideas.

Introverts listened to ideas, internalized them and were able to improve team performance.

What Specific Findings Can You Use?

  1. Less extroverted leaders can get the best results from staff by actively encouraging proactive behaviors on the part of employees.
  2. Highly extroverted leaders that tend to be more assertive may wish to adopt a more reserved style in situations in which staff suggestions are important.
  3. Proactive employees may want to look for opportunities to work with less extroverted managers.

To request recommendations or tools on how you can be a more effective introvert leader – call or email.

Are you an introvert or an extrovert?

For each number, select either A or B as best describing you.

1. When asked a question,

A. I usually jump right in and start to answer.

B. I usually like to think about it or “chew on it” before I answer.

2. After a stressful day,

A. I generally want to go out with a group of friends to unwind.

B. I generally want to have time to myself to unwind.

3. Which of the following better describes you?

A. I’m rarely at a loss for words.

B. Sometimes I struggle to find the right word or phrase.

4. How do you relate to people?

A. I consider a lot of people to be my friends and make new friends easily.

B. I consider just a few people to be friends (and think of most people as acquaintances) and make new friends gradually.

5. Which of the following better describes the way others view you?

A. Others often see me as a go-getter or a people person.

B. Others often see me as calm or reserved.

Scoring: If you have more A answers than B answers, there’s a good chance that you have a preference for extroversion; more B answers than A, a preference for introversion.

What Successful Introvert Leaders Do

Enhance your communication style to be even more effective as an introvert leader.

By understanding the challenges and recognizing the strengths of being an introvert, you can manage your roles more successfully and improve your overall career management strategy.

Can you relate to any of these?

Common Introvert
Communication Styles
Enhancing Your
Communication Style
Like to communicate by reading and writing. Recognize that your message might not get across unless you’re willing to say it aloud.
Experience your enthusiasm internally and don’t show it to others. Be aware that others may think you are uninterested, selectively let people know what you care about.
Share your views and perspective with those closest to you. Consider sharing feelings and perspective with selected people outside your intimate circles.
Discuss thoughts and feelings but perhaps not immediately. Notice the style of those you are with and attempt to match their need to talk now or wait.


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