When you think of a successful business leader, you probably imagine an outgoing "people person" with a strong handshake, a warm laugh, and a booming voice. A commanding presence, in short.
Not so fast, says executive coach and corporate speaker Jennifer B. Kahnweiler. The author of The Introverted Leader: Building on Your Quiet Strength argued in a recent Forbes article that more inwardly reflective folks hold certain advantages over their more outgoing counterparts.
Kahnweiler argues that since introverts tend to think before they speak and learn by listening, they give the people around them more room to formulate ideas. When new ideas do arise, they offer intense scrutiny rather than glossing over things. And if brainstorming sessions get heated, introverts provide a calming influence. Their need for time away from others helps in this regard -- not only can stepping out of the fray help them keep their cool in stressful situations, but it can energize their creative juices as well.
Furthermore, she says, introverts' preference for writing over talking leads to greater articulation of their thoughts and is also a boon in the realm of social networking.
Kahnweiler says that 40% of business executives consider themselves introverts, including Microsoft's
The takeaway? "That introverts, not just extroverts, have the right stuff to lead organizations in a go-go, extroverted business culture," Kahnweiler says. If the ranks of business introverts include the likes of Gates and Buffett, maybe she's on to something.
What do you think, Fools? Is there an advantage to sitting back and and letting others do the talking? Can a successful business leader have more than one kind of temperament? Make like an introvert and write up a storm in the comments box below.
Fool online editor Adrian Rush comes out as a 100% introvert every time he takes one of those Myers-Briggs personality tests. Charles Schwab and Berkshire Hathaway are Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks. Microsoft and Berkshire Hathaway are Motley Fool Inside Value selections. The Fool owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway. Motley Fool Options recommends a diagonal call on Microsoft. The Fool's disclosure policy prefers a good book to a loud party.