The first session of the Women’s Leadership Initiative for this spring included the Myers-Briggs Personality Assessment. Of the 30+ participants, we were about evenly divided between introvert and extrovert. Several people raised a question about the challenges of being an introverted leader. Aren’t these antithetical concepts?
I would argue no, for several reasons. As others have noted, I understand the introversion-extroversion continuum as being about energy, not about liking people or interacting well with them. Introverts draw their energy internally; extroverts are energized by being around other people. Introverts need people — and extroverts need quiet time, too. It’s all about the energy balance. This is a topic that the WLI will be exploring further this semester.
A growing body of research focuses on the power of introversion. A new book – officially published on January 24 – addresses this topic: “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain. (Marianne Holdskom mentions this in a comment on this blog site, too.)
And here is a link to a recent piece in the New York Times, which looks at the importance (and increasing scarcity) of quiet. I recommend it highly.