Every so often we’ll see blogs featuring the Myers-Briggs personalities of famous CEOs. This well-known personality inventory evaluates personality types on the basis of four main variables: Introversion (I) versus Extroversion (E); Intuition (N) versus Sensing (S); Thinking (T) versus Feeling (F); and Perceiving (P) versus Judging (J). This begs the question: does being an introvert or extrovert matter when it comes to good leadership?
First let us review what makes a great leader:
- Listening to your employees, including subordinate managers
- Addressing employee complaints, suggestions, concerns, and personal issues at work
- Coaching people when necessary to raise them to a higher standard
- Trusting your employees to do the work
- Not giving orders or mandating the visions, goals and objectives of your business, but instead soliciting this from your employees so that everyone is fully involved
- Providing direction, when needed, to ensure that everyone is on the same page (the one they devised). A good leader communicates the vision that was set by all. If it is a vision of little interest, then another one must be found.
Back to our original question: does it matter whether a leader is an introvert or extrovert? Nowhere do we find the requirement, or even the suggestion, that leaders must only be extroverted individuals. Being an introvert does not preclude anyone from being a leader. In fact, it merely challenges them to drive their behavior in areas that might be a bit easier for extroverts. Each trait or characteristic of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator merely highlights where a leader may need heightened insight into his or her effective leadership style.
An excerpt from Personality Types in Leaders: What Works makes this point:
The question usually arises, what type makes the best leader? All types can be effective as well as ineffective. Studies of thousands of leaders and managers world-wide have shown some profile types to be more predominant, however. This is not to imply that these types make better managers, only that they are more predominant in leadership positions.
In one study of 26,477 persons in a Leadership Development Program at the Center for Creative Leadership, the following percentage frequencies were reported:
The results of this study indicate that the “thinking” and “judging” aspects of personality—being able to make rational decisions—might be far more indicative of leadership than the “I” or “E” category. Introversion and extroversion, then, do not appear to impede or influence people in leadership. The most important and lasting legacy that leaders leave is developing, strengthening, and serving other people as they lead – and both introverts and extroverts can be very proficient at doing that.
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