According to recent research by Francesca Gino of Harvard University and David Hoffman of the University of North Carolina, published in the Academy of Management Journal, there is a significant correlation between the kinds of leadership style needed and the personalities and behavior of employees.
The researchers found in their study that when employees are more proactive, introverted managers lead them to higher profits, whereas where employees are not proactive, extraverted managers are more successful. They concluded that introverted and extraverted leadership styles can be equally effective, but with different kinds of employees.
Characteristics of introverted leaders:
- They think first and talk later. They consider what others have to say, then reflect and then respond;
- They focus on depth not superficiality. They like to dig deeply into issues and ideas before considering new ones; like meaningful rather than superficial conversations.
- They exude calm. In times of crisis in particular, they project reassuring, unflappable confidence.
- They prefer writing to talking. They are more comfortable with the written word, which helps them formulate the spoken word.
- They embrace solitude. They are energized by spending time alone, and often suffer from people exhaustion. They need a retreat, from which they emerge with renewed energy and clarity.
We must recognize that, increasingly, the workplace is populated by intelligent, knowledge workers, in workplace structures populated by self-managing teams and independent workers, particularly those of Generation Y. Many of these latter workers don't see themselves as passive employees waiting for orders nor do they want to bes controlled by an extraverted leader. They feel more comfortable with and respond better to an introverted leadership style.