The CEO of a major multinational recently shared with me that, as an introverted leader, he had to put on his “game face” whenever he left his floor. He’d realised that as a CEO of a big company, you need to act like, at times, as an extrovert. After studying introverts and extroverts in the C-Suite, I have come to the conclusion that extroverts, like myself, must also put on this “game face” and occasionally act like an introvert in order to be more effective leaders.
For two years I have been studying introverts in the C-Suite, in North America and Europe, in large companies. Most academic research suggests that senior leaders are predominantly extroverts. Contrary to this received wisdom, in my research over 30% of C-Suite executives are introverts.
Thankfully, this old school view is becoming passé, as we recognize the tremendous value that introverts bring to building effective, innovative teams. Diversity is not just about personality type, it is also about the likes of gender, race, national origin and functional area. However, in this post, I want to focus on introverts in the C-Suite.