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Extroverts vs. Introverts - who’s better in the workplace?

Larry You


A stereotype has pervaded our workplace for too long, that extroverts make the best leaders but is it really true?


Many assume that introversion is a barrier in developing leadership skills compared to extroverts, who tend to be more outgoing, and assertive. These qualities align with both personal and cultural expectations of “leadership”. While from outside successful business leaders might seem charismatic extroverts however, in reality, many successful influencers, and entrepreneurs describe themselves as introverts. According to the Forbes magazine, “It has been reported that a full 40% of executives describe themselves as introverts, including Microsoft's Bill Gates, the über-investors Warren Buffett and Charles Schwab '' (2013). It’s not surprising to see this result, as introverts have some unique characteristics which help them make better bosses in this extroverted business culture.


A study by the University of Toronto found that, “extroverts do enjoy a distinct advantage in four categories: emotional, interpersonal, motivational, and performance- related” (Percy, 2019). For instance, extroverts tend to draw on their energy and motivation by interacting with other people, which helps them to be more adaptable in different social situations. By doing this, they will gain more credits in negotiating with others which is the key to leading a successful team. However, extroverts also tend to be the center of attention hence many times they tend to consciously/unconsciously

take over conversations. When workers actively offer an ideas to improve the business, extroverted leaders may feel threatened thus ignoring constructive feedback.


On the other hand, introverted leaders have some characteristics that help them have a better performance than extroverted leaders in certain situations. Introverted leaders usually are good listeners. During the process of listening to an employees’ ideas and feedback, Introverts’ have strong observation ability that not only helps them gain more knowledge, but also makes them more attuned to emotional cues and sensory details. By doing this, introverted leaders are able to come up with more measured and well- developed responses. This empathetic ability to listen also makes introverts more approachable to their employees, which is beneficial to create an open, transparent working environment where worthy ideas are encouraged to be expressed and shared by each other. By doing this, the team’s innovation and working motivation will be promoted. In a study from Harvard Business Review, participants were divided into different groups led by an introverted leader or an extroverted leader, to see how many T-shirts they could fold in 10 minutes. “The groups with proactive followers performed better under an introverted leader—folding, on average, 28% more T-shirts. The extroverted leaders appeared threatened by and unreceptive to proactive employees” (2015). Introverted leaders listened carefully and valued groups ideas, thus empowering their working motivation and increasing efficiency.


In conclusion, introverts need to overcome some stereotypes in this extroverted business world and capitalize on their unique characteristics to stand out. It is also significant for people to seek a balance between these two personalities and take advantage of both sides' strength.

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