Do Introverts Make Good Leaders?

CES Conference Photo

I’m at the CES (Consult, Expand, Sell) conference this week in Dallas Texas to root for my business partner Brett Bartlett (he’s giving a talk) and to hang out with a bunch of our friends, students, and mentors. It’s pretty fun and exciting, but one thing shocked me that I never realized before…  I’ll get to that in a bit…  I promise.

This article is something that I’ve been thinking about for a long time – mainly because I’m an introvert and I am not a good leader.

Yup… I said it… I don’t think that I’m a good leader.

Now, is that because I’m an introvert or is it because of something else?

Are introverts better at reading emotions?

Who do you like more, somebody who talks, and talks, and talks about themselves – or the person that is engaged in who you are and what you are doing?

Over and over again I see that introverts are better than extroverts in business.  They tend to network better, understand customers better, and build stronger relationships than extroverts.

Why is that?

Well, the reason why introverts do so much better is because they listen to the other person.  As the saying goes, “God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason – so you can listen more than speak.”

People like people who listen – and introverts are naturally good at that.  Introverts are better at reading emotions than extroverts.  They tend to care more about the other person than themselves and emotional queues are a big part of that.

He’s looking at his watch, he must need to go.

She’s looking over my should, she must see someone she knows or I’m boring her.

This guy keeps raising his eyebrows while I’m giving my sales pitch, I’m pretty sure he isn’t understanding what I’m trying to communicate.

We introverts care about the emotional signals that others are giving because those physical signals communicate to us what they are thinking and feeling about the relationship.  To us, this is just as important as someone speaking their emotions with their mouth.

So, do introverts make good leaders?

Can introverts make good leaders?  Well, it depends… from my experience the concern for emotional reaction often causes paralysis or fear.  We don’t like when people don’t like us, we don’t like making others feel bad, and so on.  So often we introverts do not make good leaders.

But…

Here;s the shocking thing… at the conference that I’m at now, it’s put on by Jim Cockrum who is definitely an introvert and a leader in the Internet Marketing industry and has been a leader for over 10 years.  My cousin Brett leads a group of people in a business and is also speaking to students that he teaches at this conference as well. (Keep in mind that there is probably about 500 people here at this conference and 500+ live streaming).

They are fantastic leaders, and the people that follow them love them.  No joke, they love them.

What? How is that possible?

They are good leaders because they care about every single one of the people they teach and lead.  They focus solely on helping the other person.  They try to get to know everyone they possibly can in a real and genuine way.

But…

They fight the fear of receiving negative emotional queues from those that don’t agree with them, hate them, criticize them.  Even though it affects them more than it would an extrovert, they push through so that they can serve those that love them.

So yes, introverts can make good leaders.  In fact introverts can make GREAT leaders, if and only if they have the courage to be hurt by people in order to help people.

Me, I’m still working on that.  😉

 

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1 Comment

  • Phillip Trimby

    Reply Reply July 8, 2015

    Terrific article. The only thing missing is what is an introvert/extrovert. Introverts are more internalized in thought. An extrovert is more verbal… open to express to others in thinking. People often think of an introvert as that quite person over there… the wall flower… lacking confidence.

    This is so far from true. The introvert internally processes input, then acts on the results. The extrovert processes thoughts externally. Either can be withdrawn from the limelight and paste themselves to a favorite vantage point. Both types can be confident to take front and center in their style. Confronting/dialogue with others helps the extrovert solidify their view. Introverts quietly gather information. Most of us are a mix of both styles.

    Am I a sensitive introvert or might I be a sensitive extrovert attuned to sensing the acceptance/rejection of my audience?

    Thanks for your very interesting writing.

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