In a recent Psychology Today article, Ray Williams puts forth the idea that we may be idolizing the wrong kind of leadership for what our modern working environments require. Specifically, we need more introverted leaders instead of the extroverted leaders that our culture appear to so highly value.
Why would we make a dramatic turn and embrace introverted leaders? Because their personality traits, generally, are better suited to managing and mentoring the employees of today, who are pushed to operate ever more independently.
The article lists the general attributes of introverted leaders as:
- They think first and talk later. They consider what others have to say, then reflect and then respond
- They focus on depth not superficiality. They like to dig deeply into issues and ideas before considering new ones; like meaningful rather than superficial conversations.
- They exude calm. In times of crisis in particular, they project reassuring, unflappable confidence.
- They prefer writing to talking. They are more comfortable with the written word, which helps them formulate the spoken word.
- They embrace solitude. They are energized by spending time alone, and often suffer from people exhaustion. They need a retreat, from which they emerge with renewed energy and clarity.
I agree with these, and have seen them, and the reverse from more extroverted management, in action. If the article is correct then we are entering an age where quiet and deep contemplation will become more valued than boisterous and rapid action. Personally I think this would be a huge boon for corporate America, but I am not so sure how the media and general public would react to leaders with these attributes when we are so used to the opposite.
Should we embrace this new model, however, I believe that productivity, employee happiness, and retention could improve for many organizations. When staff feel the focus is genuinely on their own needs and development, they will be more likely to have higher morale and be eager to increase their individual contributions to the organization’s own innovation and development.
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