Case incident – Introverted Execs Find Ways to Shine
When people think of a stereotypical leader, they often conjure up the image of a dynamic public speaker, a forceful and dominant personality, and someone who can cultivate relationships with a broad number of people. These are all hallmarks of the extroverted personality type, so it’s often been the case that extroverts rise to leadership positions more readily than introverts. However, some question whether the social dominance and ability to command attention shown by extraverts might make them less effective leaders in certain ways. In particular, extroverts may be less likely to take advice from followers. One study investigated how quickly groups of college students could fold shirts in 10 minutes. Each group had a leader who was cued to be either extroverted or introverted. The introverted leaders took more advice from their proactive followers, and this led the groups with introverted leaders to be more effective. Thus, even though there are cases where introverts are less successful as leaders, in some conditions they are more effective. Others note that introverted leaders can be better than extroverts at one-on- one interactions, empathy, and deliberate decision making. Are there business executives who break the extroverted leader mold? One is Google co-founder Larry Page, well-known for developing a small number of close relationships and being an excellent listener. ColgatePalmolive chief Ian Cook might feel uncomfortable in front of large groups of people he doesn’t know, but he has learned to partner with more extroverted colleagues for presentations to offset his natural shyness. Walmart Stores CEO Mike Duke is famously low-key and reserved, but he has utilised his natural introvert skills of managing details and engineering solutions to maintain the retail giant’s dominant market position. These examples show that although extroverts might get all the attention, introverts can still make effective leaders.
1. The case describes some problems introverts might have in leadership situations. What techniques/behaviours might they employ to help them overcome these? (2 points)
2. Under what conditions do you think extraverts make more effective leaders than introverts? (2 points)
3. As discussed in class, individuals differ in terms of their personality, and these differences contribute to effective performance. It isn’t always possible to identify personality traits successfully during the hiring process, and sometimes there simply aren’t enough people with the « right » personality traits available. So should organizations try to shape their employees to make them more conscientious, agreeable, open, emotionally stable and extraverted? Is there a potential ethical problem with exercising this type of control over workers? (3 points)