Introverts versus Extroverts: Which ones are the better leaders?

07 November 2023 5 min. read

International research shows that many great leaders have common characteristics and traits, with being extrovert one of them. Introverts on the contrary are often mistaken and misunderstood by their extroverted peers, especially in work-related environments. Gayle Terzis, an Executive & Career Coach, however makes the case for introverts, outlining why they too can grow into great leaders.

Due to their quiet natures, introverts might be deemed unfit to become leaders. However, recent studies have shown that in some cases, they actually make better managers than their extroverted peers.

While extroverts have a lot of qualifications that make them excellent leaders such as public speaking skills and assertiveness, introverts have other qualities that make them empathetic managers who lead their teams to success.

Introverts versus Extroverts: Which ones are the better leaders?

In practice, the secret to the success of both introverted and extroverted leaders highly depends on the teams they are paired with.

The story of an introvert with big dreams

During the last few months, I have been working with an introvert on her assertiveness skills, through a customized approach that suits her goals.

Ella (not her real name for privacy reasons) is an introvert with big dreams; she has always wanted to become the manager of the marketing team at her workplace, but due to the unconscious workplace bias that usually favors extrovert leaders, she feared that she lacked the necessary skills.

Unwilling to let fear hold her back though, she was determined to do what it takes to make her vision come true. That is when she came to me. Together, we started intense personal coaching sessions.

During our line of work, we developed a lot of strategies to help her cope with situations her quiet nature is averted too. The objective of the sessions was to make her realize that despite the fact that “96% of leaders self-report as extroverts”, this doesn’t mean that she can’t have her place as an introvert manager.

All that she needed to do was to bring her set of skills forward. She, and the company she was working for, needed to realize that her unique personal strengths will allow her to manage her team differently, but not less efficiently than her extroverted peers.

Differences between introverts and extroverts

Introverts are people who usually love spending quiet time alone. They are often seen as more reserved and sometimes shyer than their extroverted counterparts.

And while the latter thrive on social interactions, introverts often feel drained by them. According to one commonly cited definition: “Introverts […] turn to their own minds to recharge, while extroverts seek out other people for their energy needs.”

In the case of Ella, it was important for her to understand her personality type and what makes her thrive. One popular personality type method is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) test .

Why do introverts make good leaders?

Introverts have many qualities that make them great and empathetic leaders. Their employees enjoy having them in charge because of the following reasons:

  • They are great listeners and prefer to have meaningful conversations with their employees, thus taking the time to truly know them. This becomes helpful in situations where employees are facing problems. They know that they can rely on their managers to help them. This, in turn, fosters a positive working environment.
  • They are calm, which creates a nurturing environment. They tend to be deeply mindful of their actions with others. They also know energy drainers and develop solutions to deal with those accordingly.
  • They are great problem solvers. Because they like to introspect and take their time before making hasty decisions, introverts almost always come up with great solutions.

Why do extroverts make good leaders?

Extrovert leaders have many qualities and are usually seen in positions of power more than their introvert counterparts. So what makes them good leaders?

  • They easily make connections, whether with clients or employees. They are not afraid to be the center of attention and this helps foster good relationships between the company and its clients and employees.
  • They exude strength and confidence which is a great asset at garnering loyalty from their team members. They can be relied upon in situations of stress.
  • They thrive on interactions, which is a great asset when they are in a position of leadership.

Introverts versus extroverts – which ones are the better leaders?

Introverts and extroverts have different sets of skills and management styles that can either be beneficial or detrimental to their organizations. This greatly depends on the setting they are in and the teams they are managing.

When paired with the right team, each type of leader can thrive allowing their employees to thrive with them.

In the current workplace structure though, most team managers are extroverts and it is therefore important to give introverts a chance. Although they might not be the loudest in the room, they sure are reliable and make their employees feel listened to. This fosters positive communication and creates a stable environment where each type of personality can shine.

The most effective teams are composed of a good mix of introverts and extroverts, and it is highly possible to create a symbiotic environment for both. Leadership can craft and distribute tasks based on people’s natural strengths and temperaments.

When my client, Ella, finally understood all of her qualities, she became unstoppable. After months of coaching sessions, hard work, and personal efforts, she was finally able to lend the role of her dream, and become the empathetic, caring, and problem-solving manager she has always wanted to be.

About Gayle Terzis
Gayle Terzis is an Executive & Career Coach and the Founder of Boost Up. She previously spent over ten years in the corporate world working on diverse missions, including the development of the first program dedicated to the financial empowerment of women in the Middle East.

After ten years in the banking sector, she experienced herself a turning point, which made her realize she was no longer fulfilled in her work and life. She decided to take the jump and become a career coach. Terzis helps mid-senior level professionals redesign their career and achieve meaningful goals faster; while having a balanced, healthy, happy, and productive life.