Counterintuitive to our usual perceptions of a leader-persona, quiet introverts, too, may be equally effective in leading teams, especially when the latter consist of very outgoing, effusive followers. That is what research by Francesca Gino, associate professor in the Negotiations, Organizations, and Markets Unit at Harvard Business School, has revealed, according to a recent first look published in the Working Knowledge newsletter from the school.
Gino has identified traits of better listening and internalization among introverts, which contribute to their ability to deal with and fix problems calmly and effectively. In a team of very enthusiastic and communicative followers, introvert leaders are more likely to listen and implement ideas, and thus reduce the risk of meetings degenerating into talk sessions where everyone is busy contributing ideas and there is no one to act upon them.
However, if the team in question is predominantly made up of reticent and passive members, an extrovert may be a better person to lead them since otherwise, they are likely to end up with a lot of contemplation but few actionable ideas.
Perhaps the greatest takeaway from Gino's research is the fact that anyone can be groomed to become a leader and the impact or effectiveness of his style would depend to a large extent on the nature of the larger ecosystem in which he or she operates. In a conversation with CNN, Gino pointed out that no matter who you are and what your disposition is, you can push yourself...Some people may just need to push themselves a little harder and use an attitude that sets the situation.
Detailed findings of the research conducted in collaboration with professors Adam M. Grant of the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School and David A. Hofmann of UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School will appear in the Academy of Management Journal next year, titled Reversing the Extraverted Leadership Advantage: The Role of Employee Proactivity.