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Can Introverts Lead?

November 18, 2010

So often we assume that good leaders are extroverts, but as Francesca Gino, associate professor at Harvard Business School suggests, that may not always be true.

Though North American culture seems to value the extroverted personality, extroverted leaders do face challenges. They can stifle a proactive team by often overlooking the input of team members in favour of their own ideas.

Introvert leaders are better in situations when followers are proactive. Introverts are notoriously great listeners, and are thus more receptive to the ideas of their followers. If you are yourself an introverted leader, Francesca’s advice is to let your team know you’re a great listener and that you’re open to their ideas and suggestions.

Ultimately, its all about adapting your leadership style to your followers.

If they are proactive people who provide input and offer creative suggestions, an introverted approach will lead to the success of the team.  On the other hand, if your followers are silent and offer little in the way of input or solutions, as a leader, you should assume a more assertive, extroverted role to get your team on the path to participation and involvement.

Fun Fact: Abraham Lincoln was an introverted leader!

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