I’m pretty sure the corporate world did not discover the strength of introverted leaders just now, if you consider the myriads of virtues exhibited by those mystical introverts eloquently teased out in this Forbes article.
But it is possible that after the sometime dazzling but on a whole, hugely disappointing decade we’ve been handed by the last crop of business leaders, people are on the look out for a new model.
So are we ready for a new breed of corporate leadership? The thoughtful, silent, wise and stoic type?
I’m reminded of Jonathan Rauch’s excellent essay on introverts.
For one thing, extroverts are overrepresented in politics, a profession in which only the garrulous are really comfortable. Look at George W. Bush. Look at Bill Clinton. They seem to come fully to life only around other people. To think of the few introverts who did rise to the top in politics—Calvin Coolidge, Richard Nixon—is merely to drive home the point. With the possible exception of Ronald Reagan, whose fabled aloofness and privateness were probably signs of a deep introverted streak (many actors, I’ve read, are introverts, and many introverts, when socializing, feel like actors), introverts are not considered “naturals” in politics.
Extroverts are certainly over-represented in politics, it is hard to say whether the same is true for business, given a long list of success the likes of Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, among many more.
I would think the specific role one holds, i.e. founder, CEO, chief strategist, versus marketing director, PR consultant, or VP of sales, is more telling when matched with a certain personality trait, than the vague title of “business leader”.