Introverts, the CEOs of the future?

I recently started working with Drew, a director in a financial services firm who has everything going for him as a leader: integrity, passion for his work, vision and sound judgement, empathy, and emotional intelligence. The only thing that seemed to be missing was… courage. He does have courage when it comes to managing conflict and adversity. However, there was something holding him back to step up to the next leadership challenge: “I am introvert,” he shared. It sounded like an admission of a huge flaw. In what ways, I asked, could being an introvert be a powerful asset for him?

Based on research by Wharton Business School psychologist Adam Grant, introverted leaders are best suited for independent and empowered employees. In stark contrast to this are extroverted leaders who mesh best with employees who have no qualms about following orders. “In a faster-paced service and knowledge economy, it’s much more difficult for leaders to anticipate all of the threats and opportunities that face their organizations,” Grant is quoted in a recent article in Time Magazine (“The Upside of Being An Introvert”, March 2012). “This need for employee proactivity has created a distinct advantage for introverted leaders.”

Given my client does in fact work for a fast paced, knowledge heavy firm, his leadership style likely will have a positive impact on bottom line. So, we explored further, what are ways Drew can start leveraging his introversion with his team? We are partnering on making it happen as I am writing this…