According to figures collected by Myers-Briggs over a ten-year period, introverts are roughly 51% of the population.
Interestingly enough, they constitute about 15% of leaders at the lowest levels, such as supervisors, and about 2% at the top (CEOs).
Does this indicate that introverts are poor leadership material or is something else going on? Do these figures qualify them as a minority group?
Recent research, such as the CEO Genome Project, found that introverts can make great CEOs. Researchers such as Adam Grant have found that introverts make great leaders for innovative teams.
Why has this not been recognized? Cultural bias, with its preference for charismatic, energetic leaders rather than thoughtful bright ones, seems to be the culprit.
Corporations, crying out for new leaders, are losing out by not recognizing this potential in their midst.
One corporation that recognizes this potential is Sensata Engineering. At their recent leadership conference, Diversity Drives Innovation, President Jeffrey Cote opened the conference with a speech in which he included introversion as one of the diversity topics at which they would be looking.
I was privileged to be able to deliver a 1-1/2 hour talk on that topic to a group of enthusiastic Sensata leaders from all over the country and from their base in Ireland, who demonstrated their eagerness to learn more about how to value and develop their talented “quietly brilliant” team members.
Worldwide, CEOs are crying out for new sources of leadership without realizing the valuable treasure they have within their own organizations. Enlarging their model of what constitutes good leadership would go a long way towards solving the problem.
So what is leadership?
As Joel Hodroff, Futurist and Deep Thinker says,
“Leadership calls for shifting the paradigm, not just steering the bus … anything else is management.”
What do you think about a paradigm shift to a leadership model that includes the “quietly brilliant?” How can we best accomplish this?