Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Quiet Leaders Prove Better Leaders

There is new research about the effectiveness of introvert leaders that validates many of the concepts I discuss here. 

As I have written before,  I'm an introvert and contrary to the belief of some, being an introvert isn't crippling.  It is more about energy and how you gather and use it.  As an introvert, I gain energy with solitude and expend energy with people.  

I have proposed in previous posts that quiet leadership is effective.  For example in The Best Leaders Are..., I cited the work of  Executive coach Jennifer B Kahnweiler who wrote on Forbes.com about the strengths of the introvert leader.  She proposed key characteristics that  make an introvert a better leader: 

  1. They think first, talk later.
  2. They focus on depth.
  3. They exude calm.
  4. They let their fingers do the talking.
  5. They embrace solitude.

This topic and related research was explored recently on the Harvard Business School Working Knowledge blog.  The post,  Introverts: The Best Leaders for Proactive Employees reviews the work of Business School professor Francesca Gino.  Professor Gino's research will be published next year but the early results indicate that:

  • Extraverted leaders can be a liability if the followers are extroverts, tending not to be receptive to employees who make suggestions and take initiative.
  • Introverted leaders are more likely to listen to, process, and implement the ideas of an eager team.
  • Leaders need to adapt their style depending on the type of group they are leading. With proactive employees, leaders need to be receptive to the team's ideas; with a more passive team leaders need to act more demonstratively and set a clear direction.

The notion that leaders need to adapt their style is the biggest takeaway in the post for me.  I'm looking forward to reading about the research when it is released later this year. 

Thanks for reading.  Please lead quietly.