Introvert vs. Extrovert: Who Makes a Better Leader

Introvert vs. Extrovert: Who Makes a Better Leader was originally published on Firsthand.

Introverts and extroverts form the two ends of the personality spectrum. Most people are somewhere in the middle. While leaders come in all forms, the best ones are those who can adapt their personality traits, especially at work. They can be remarkably outgoing one day, then incredibly focused on an urgent task the next. 

Whether you identify as an introvert or an extrovert, how you deal with a situation is the only thing that matters in the workplace. Both introverts and extroverts can bring certain key leadership characteristics to the table.

Advantages of introverted leaders

While they might not be as outgoing as their extroverted counterparts, introverts can be just as skilled at leading people. In fact, they may have certain advantages. Here are some of the valuable leadership traits of introverts that people tend to overlook.

1. They listen to feedback

Great leaders do more than just talk. They listen to their managers, employees, clients, and everyone else around them. 

Introverted leaders tend to be better listeners, empathizing with their staff when they’re frustrated about something and taking their concerns into account. They also recognize that learning is the key to development and that learning starts with listening.

For example, if someone is feeling excluded by the words that are used at work, an introverted leader might come up with a creative solution such as an inclusive language glossary.

2. They form strong loyalties

Introverts are not solitary creatures, nor are they “just shy”. Instead, they are very selective about the individuals they allow into their circle of confidence and tend to be fiercely loyal.

In a working environment, introverted leaders develop close social relations with colleagues that they trust. This leads to better working relationships and opportunities for collaboration.

3. They can be more productive

A study by Harvard Business Review revealed that introverted leaders delivered better results when handling proactive workers than extroverts.

Because they have no desire to receive a lot of attention, introverted leaders are content with letting their proactive employees take the spotlight. They do all they can to support their people in the background and to make their top performers feel valued.

Advantages of extroverted leaders

Broadly speaking, extroverts are seen as more outgoing and vocal than their introverted peers. This makes them effective in certain situations. Here are a few reasons extroverts can make great leaders:

1. They make quick decisions

In many industries, rapid decision-making skills are essential. Most extroverts find it easy to make decisions on the fly and demand the same of others. When they aren't able to make decisions right away, it irritates them. Sometimes, these situations force them to take calculated risks that introverts might struggle with.

2. They are adept at social situations

Since extroverts enjoy being in company, they respond well to various social circumstances and are adept at persuasion. They are also able to negotiate or mediate between two or more parties, especially when they show empathy towards everyone involved in the discussion. They're generally more assertive as well, meaning they're likely to follow up on tasks that haven't been completed yet by team members.

3. Their personality is an effective leadership tool

Extroverts are very enthusiastic. When they are passionate about something, they tend to show it and do so with a flair that is visible to everyone around them. These characteristics cause them to have a high degree of workplace recognition. Their enthusiasm is also contagious and can have a positive impact on their colleagues.

Strike a balance to be a better team leader

When you are a leader, some things remain universal regardless of your personality type. You need to make it easier for everybody to speak openly, and you need to promote diversity and inclusion within your team. Strong leaders should act with integrity and be willing to receive and act upon feedback. A good leader shows enthusiasm about what they do and remains objective despite the challenges they face.

It’s important to create an atmosphere where everyone, introverts and extroverts alike, feels comfortable and included. 

Both introverts and extroverts display positive attributes that are crucial to leadership. In fact, the two groups have a lot to learn from each other!

Nicholas Rubright is the communications specialist for Writer – an AI writing assistant designed for teams. Nicholas has previously worked to develop content marketing strategies for brands like Webex, Havenly, and Fictiv.

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