Why introverts can be natural leaders

Last week  I coached an introverted manager.

“Do you think I have it in me?” he asked “… to become a natural leader? ”

” … although I’m an introvert?”

Why introverts can be natural leaders

Last week  I coached an introverted manager.

“Do you think I have it in me?” he asked

“… to become a natural leader?

And then he said what he was really worrying about: ” … although I’m an introvert?”

In our western economy we picture a stereotypical leader as confident, out-going, sociable, great talker, initiative-taker… the classic extrovert

How could a more soft spoken, quiet, self-effacing person, who takes a back seat during public discussions, have the ability to stimulate excitement and engagement with his/her group members?

Returning to the introverted manager I was coaching, I asked him whether his team was more proactive or passive?

The dominance complementarity theory

According to the “dominance complementarity theory”, groups get along better when the leaders and group members balance their tendencies to run the show.

Adam Grant, a professor at University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Management and widely know extrovert vs introverted leadership researcher, found in a study of store managers of a national pizza chain, that when employees were highly proactive, taking initiative to generate and implement ideas and suggestions for improvement, stores managed by introverts had 14% higher weekly profits than stores managed by extroverts.

More listening, less talking

There is more conflict when an extroverted boss tries to manage a group of engaged employees. They can be so intent on putting their own stamp on a project, that they risk losing others’ good ideas along the way and allow workers to lapse into passivity.

In addition to allowing their group members to contribute more actively to the success of the groups’s efforts, introverted leaders spend more time listening and less time talking. This makes them more attuned to the needs and concerns of their group members.

Need for engaged employees

Extroverted leaders enhance group performance when employees are passive. Introverted leaders are more effective with proactive employees.

The moral of the story is that the personalities of leaders and followers should be in harmony for a group to achieve maximum productivity.

However … engaged, proactive employees who take advantage of opportunities in a fast moving, 24/7 business environment, without waiting for a boss to tell them what to do, are becoming increasingly vital to organizational success.  If organizations want to attract and keep engaged employees, they might consider looking for introverted leaders more then they did before.

As for the introverted manager I coached, he was never happier to work with an engaged team and continued to motivate them to be even more proactive by hearing and implementing their suggestions.

How about you? Are you happy with your team?

If you enjoyed this post, I’d be very grateful if you’d help it spread by emailing it to a friend, or sharing it on Twitter, Linkedin or Facebook. Thank you!

So grateful to have shared this with you!

Live on purpose,



P.S.: Do you want to be a natural leader?

Leadership Road to Freedom open training on the 20th of August. For more info and registration click here. 

Ann Baeke

Natural Leadership wants to help people, teams and organizations with their self-realization in an authentic and effective way. Self – realization brings freedom. People will feel happier and energized. Their performance increases. 

I put the mission of Natural Leadership –  finding self – realization and the freedom to unlock your full potential – to work by doing two things:

  • First helping leaders in strengthening their personal leadership.
  • Second helping teams and organizations in creating a culture of engagement.

Both reinforce each other and transform people and organizations. Result: Increase in well – being, profit and growth.




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