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marions ghost Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Mar-29-05 10:21 AM
Original message
Can introverts be good leaders?
What happens when an introvert must lead a group of extroverts? How is the leadership style different? Most politicians are extroverts--what are the implications of this? Could this be part of John Kerry's image problem--he comes off like a (non-shy) introvert next to Shrub's extra-extroversion. Is it possible to get more introverts into politics? In what areas do introverts tend to lead groups? Does anyone have any examples from personal experience?

The following is from the article "Caring For Your Introvert"
discussed in some other threads here:
"...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 politicsCalvin Coolidge, Richard Nixonis 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 therefore dominate public life. This is a pity. If we introverts ran the world, it would no doubt be a calmer, saner, more peaceful sort of place..."
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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-01-05 08:25 AM
Response to Original message
1. Just my opinion ...
Introverts can make good leaders, but it's bad for them.

A closer look at what "good" in "good leaders" means could
help clarify that.

But what introverts naturally are attracted to is no leaders,
to natural democracy where everybody is equal and nobody gets
bossed around.
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kitkatrose Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-02-05 11:53 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. I agree.
On school projects, people would pick me as leader, even when none was required. I mean really, would you rather me assign you a topic to research, or pick one yourself? Anyway, people would always tell me, you're such a good lead, blah, blah, blah, but it was really difficult for me, as I don't particularly like people all that well. I knew that when I was 12. Leading a bunch, or even a few, is like trying to manage a herd of wet cats--I don't need that type of problems.

One of the strange things is, is that, in my personal experience, some of the most extroverted people, tend to make really bad leaders. They seem to spend too much time talking and not enough time doing.

But what introverts naturally are attracted to is no leaders,
to natural democracy where everybody is equal and nobody gets
bossed around.

I prefer that, but in group settings, it seems like people can't be trusted to do their part, unless someone is there telling them what to do at every step. Which is why I hate working with other people.
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marions ghost Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-03-05 12:14 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. yeah, I like the power of groups
as a lot can be accomplished by teams, but like you I also feel that the difficulties of working with others (even when goals are the same) can be so negative and draining that it's not worth it. If you DO take a leadership role (I have been on a couple of boards of non-profits as a volunteer) --by the time you deal with all the various aggressions of the power seekers, or on the other hand, take up slack for those who let everyone else do the work (while entertaining the idea that their opinions are so highly valuable that that IS their contribution), you can be severely burnt out.

So are we leaving the world to be run by extroverts, who may have very different values? Are there any examples of situation where introvertive types are jointly running something? Is there a power latent in the harnessing of introvert ways and means, as a group? I don't know, I just wonder if there is untapped potential in defining
what characterizes introvert leadership? Could groups of introverts achieve more than a mixed group?
I have not read "The Introvert Advantage"--I wonder if it discusses the introvert in leadership roles.
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marions ghost Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-03-05 12:26 PM
Response to Reply #1
4. is it possible that
leaders do not have to boss others around? I'm not sure it's an equality issue, so much as a clash of styles of relating and deciding courses of action. Extroverts seem to perceive more considered styles of acting to be non-action, and they have a hard time differentiating that from slacking off in a group situation. I have found that I like the lower-key leadership styles of those I consider to be like me (ie. "non-shy introvert" to use the jargon). I don't have a problem with a leader I respect, one who "works with" and does not boss. I think good leaders are those you want to follow, not those you must follow (ie. the current Republican leaddership).
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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-09-05 08:18 PM
Response to Reply #4
7. An interesting question.
As you point out, it has been my experience that a certain
amount of bossing around is necessary, otherwise leader wannabes
among one's minions will see this as a lack and step into
the vacuum. So one must be somewhat proactive about these things
from time to time or embarassing things can occur. To phrase
it differently, it depends on what sort of minions one has, some
can be left to their own devices with occasional interaction to
see that they have what they need, some need explicit and regular
direction, and some need to be run off as politely as one can so
that they don't get in the way. I have never been in the position
of having great control over my minions, and I expect that would be
a more congenial situation.
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GOPFighter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-05-05 12:14 PM
Response to Original message
5. I'm a loner, also a Branch Chief
I think loners make good leaders as long as the people they lead are decent, responsible people.

The extroverted BCs spend a lot of time away from their desks and away from their offices. They often have to be hunted down when they are needed. I'm usually at my desk. I think my employees feel more confident with me around to answer questions and handle issues. On the other hand, the extroverts network well and hear things going on in other Branches that could affect their Branch. I'm usually out of the loop which hurts my Branch sometimes.

My biggest hurdle is to force myself to walk through the Branch occasionally to say hi to the quiet workers and engage in small talk about families and vacations, etc. The hardest part of my job are the mandatory meetings and social get togethers that I HAVE to attend. UGH! Those are hell!
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LWolf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-05-05 08:55 PM
Response to Original message
6. Yes.
I'm a loner. I'm also a leader. As a loner, I'm incredibly independent. I don't follow trends, or subscribe to conventional wisdom, or cultural norms or patterns. I am truly outside the box.

Professionally, I am a strong leader. I don't speak up much at staff meetings. I'm a loner, and I tend to be pretty blunt. I intimidate people, because I call it like I see it, and I see too many conventional "norms" that are bullshit. does that make me a leader? I don't speak up, unless someone is suggesting policy that intrudes on my choices. I let people go their own way without judgement, as long as I can do the same. I'm highly successful. I have more training, and more specialized experience than most. They come to me with questions, etc.. I share freely. When I look around the place, I see many systems I designed for myself that were slowly adopted by others, without any suggestions from me, that are now standard. Is that leadership? To go your own way, share freely and liberally with those who ask, and leave everyone else alone as long as they stay off your patch? It may not sound like it, but I'm considered a "site leader" anyway. That means that I am called on to do staff development on a regular basis, and my area is a "demonstration" area for anyone who wants to pop in and observe.

Interestingly, a favorite horse trainer of mine calls it "passive leadership." His discussion is all about inter- and intraspecies interactions, but I find it instructive:


Now, having said that, I also believe that it is important to note that most "herd" mammals are all set up pretty much the same way (this includes us humans). The herd starts with the "alpha", the one with all the power, then moves progressively downward. Somewhere in the middle of the herd structure are what I refer to as passive leaders. These are animals, (whether human, horses, buffalo, deer, etc..) that simply try to get along with everybody in the herd. They aren't necessarily interested in moving up the "alpha" ladder, because they are content at their position within the herd. These passive leaders are usually very quiet in their day to day activities, and as a result, begin to gain the confidence of the other members of the herd.

Because horses are passive and quiet by nature, they will naturally want to spend more time with the individuals in the herd that cause them the least amount of stress throughout the day. The reason the passive leaders are causing the least amount of stress, is because they are dependable in their actions. They seldom, if ever, use force to get their way, and seem to lead by example. Where ever they go, the rest of the herd willingly follows.
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