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Quiet Leaders: Do They Have to Work Harder?

It seems like Tell Assertive people have a natural advantage when it comes to climbing the corporate ladder. TRACOM’s most recent research found that 70 percent of executives are either Driving or Expressive Style, compared to only 49 percent of individual contributors who have these Styles.

Related to this, a study by researchers from the University of Minnesota and Baruch College found that 60 percent of top level executives displayed high levels of extroversion. Extroverts maintain and refresh their energy by being outgoing, talkative, and sociable. Introverts, on the other hand, replenish themselves by spending time alone, and tend to be more reserved and less outspoken. While there is not necessarily a direct correlation between introversion/extroversion and Ask/Tell Assertiveness, the two are similar.

While businesses may be biased toward selecting and promoting extroverts, new research from Harvard Business School shows that these businesses may be short changing themselves when they fail to promote individuals with more subdued styles. Further, this research highlights the importance of learning and practicing different behaviors, no matter what a leader’s natural behavioral style may be. In other words, leaders and those who aspire to leadership roles should learn and practice Versatility.

In a forthcoming paper, Harvard researcher Francesca Gino argues that introverted leaders are more effective than extroverts in day-to-day teamwork, particularly when teams have members who are knowledgeable, proactive, and have their own ideas. In these circumstances she found that introverted leaders allowed team members to fully express themselves and listened carefully for new ideas, and as a result improved their teams’ performance. In contrast, extroverted leaders were more dominant, drove conversations, and were less receptive to new ideas, negatively affecting team performance. Gino cites examples of successful introverted leaders, such as Jeff Bezos (Amazon) and Bill Gates (Microsoft).  You can watch a video interview with Gino here.

One of the key takeaways from Gino’s research is that people of any style can learn to practice effective leadership skills. In her study, she found that when people were pushed to try different styles, they were able to learn the positive leadership characteristics of both introverts and extroverts. However, introverts may need to try harder since it is not their natural style to be dominant or outgoing. The good news is that these individuals can learn specific behaviors to help themselves be heard, and simple cues can help, such as raising a finger during meetings or saying someone’s name to get his or her attention.

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  1. MentorTopSolutions | Who Makes A Better Leader – An Introvert or Extrovert? - May 31, 2017

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