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The Introverted Leader

Building on your Quiet Strength

By Jennifer Kahnweiler
  • Read in 16 minutes
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  • Contains 10 key ideas
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The Introverted Leader by Jennifer Kahnweiler

Kahnweiler explores the specific challenges introverts face in an extroverted business world. She then sets out to show how introverted executives can push their limits, employ their characteristic strengths and still become great leaders.

Key idea 1 of 10

There are more introverts than you think – even among highly influential people.

Whether it’s in a chatty classroom or at a party, it often seems that extroverts greatly outnumber introverts. But appearances can deceive: there are actually quiet people in every walk of life – and they aren’t even a minority.

In fact, introversion and extraversion are basic temperaments that are evenly distributed throughout the population.

The terms extrovert and introvert were first introduced by the psychologist C.G. Jung to distinguish between two basic personality types:

Introverts tend to direct their attention inward, focusing on their own thoughts, whereas extroverts are active, social and focus on their external environment. The two types also differ in how they recharge their mental batteries: extroverts are energized by social interaction, while introverts recover energy through quiet, solitary contemplation. Finally, their communication styles are different: extroverts are outspoken and decisive, whereas introverts are reserved, prefer listening to talking and ponder all their options before taking action.

So how many introverts are out there? Scientists interviewed different groups of people about introverted personality traits such as needing a lot of quiet time or preferring listening to talking.

The result?

About 47-55 % of the US population are introverts.

But what about business and politics – surely there is only place for extroverts there?

Indeed, our business culture does seem to favor extroverts by emphasizing the importance of socializing, decisiveness and gregariousness over introvert traits like reflectiveness or conscientousness. Yet one study shows that no less than 40% of all executives describe themselves as introverts. The most famous of them all was probably President Abraham Lincoln, known for his tendency to frequently withdraw inside himself: he would often be found alone in his library reading law books instead of socializing.

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