Can you be an Introvert and a CEO who drives growth?

Well, yes, actually you can. In my research for my upcoming book, The Introvert CEO, I found just that.

For example, one quietly brilliant CEO, instead of picturing himself as a knight on a charger riding to the rescue of an ailing company, described himself as a good follower: following the needs of the clients, employees and Board.  Within two years of his arrival, his failing organization was a Fortune 500 company.

Another expressed gratitude for all the opportunities that he had encountered in his life, opportunities that he now tries to offer to his own employees. Under his leadership, his company is thriving.

When asked to describe how he got to his leadership role, another CEO of a successful company said simply, “I was invited.” At every step of the way, he received an invitation to move ahead. It apparently never occurred to him to fight his way to leadership. He didn’t think of it as a competition. He saw his task as that of an intense problem-solver.

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Is Introversion Main Stream at Last?


The topic of introversion has now entered the mainstream. How can I tell? This topic, which I have championed for so many years (full disclosure: I am an introvert), has now appeared in one of my favorite comic strips, and I honestly don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

In the Dilbert strip of July 23, an introvert appears and utters all of the stereotypes about introverts being despairing, lonely, and avoidant of conversation. Introversion has become part of the workplace diversity conversation, and that’s a good thing. Picking up on that trend, Dilbert, which satirizes workplace behavior, has now made this contribution, and I know it’s satire; nevertheless, I seem to have lost my sense of humor.
You see, I also know that introverts, no matter how skilled or intelligent, tend to be the last-hired. I know, from studies such as that done by Ones and Dilchert (Industrial & Organizational Psych, 2009), that introverts constitute only 12% of supervisors, and that percentage decreases as you go up the managerial levels, dwindling to a scant 2% at the very top. At the same time, the presence of extreme extroverts rises to 60% at the top.

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Bullying in the Workplace: Who Bullies Whom?

Over 40% of employees in the workplace have experienced bullying, a persistent pattern of behavior that intimidates, degrades or otherwise undermines the wellbeing of the target. Bullying is four times more prevalent than sexual abuse, and, according to a study at the University of Manitoba, the outcomes for victims of bullying are worse than are those for sexual abuse victims.

So who are the bullies? And who are the targets? It’s easy to envision a quiet, introverted person as the victim of an outgoing, brash person. But it’s not that simple.

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