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Being An Introverted Leader And How It Affects Upward Mobility

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A few years ago, I participated in a test designed to find out what type of personality I had in order to better identify the best way to engage with me in a classroom environment and see how I received information. I am an ISTJ type personality. ISTJ stands for Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, and Judging, and is one of the many personalities identified by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test. This personality test was developed by Carl Jung and he was the pioneer of the concepts of introversion and extroversion. This indicates that I am an introvert. I prefer quiet solitude and privacy in order to process information whereas the extrovert opts to engage with others and talk through problems. Both personality types have found much success in being engaging and successful leaders. Employing an introvert in your company is not a bad thing, yet in many instances, our society has chosen to reward the extravert with promotions to leadership positions over the introvert. I hope to dispel some of the myths associated with introversion and show you how introverts can be dynamic and successful leaders in the realm of modern business.

In today’s society introversion is not looked at with very high regards. David Smith stated, “Introversion can be confused with shyness; it is not shyness. Introversion is a person’s preferred style of working with ideas, people, and the world. Shyness is an anxiety challenge.” (2018). Introversion has been described in a negative fashion in many ways from dictionary terms to the areas of psychological theory. Even Freud had negative tendencies towards introverts and thought introversion was pathological. He felt that the goal of psychological development was to find enjoyment in the external realms of reality. Alfred Adler looked at introversion in a different light. Adler subscribed to the concept of looking inward at one’s own thoughts and feelings. He felt that people were creative artists who formed their own lives (Eve-Cahoon, 2003). It is most likely that Freud was an extrovert and Adler was an introvert and these are the reasons they looked at society in the ways that they did.

Although the two of them were different, introverts are fewer in population than extroverts. That may be one explanation why there is a belief that introverts have a less likely chance of progressing into leadership positions. There simply are fewer of them, one third to one half of the population, to choose from. In some instances though, introverts are often more effective leaders in dynamic and unpredictable environments. They tend to slow down and think about a solution before acting out. “When introverted employees are proactive and offer ideas for improving the business, the extroverted person can feel threatened.” (Mascone, 2016). If that person is in a position of leadership, they may look for opportunities to solidify their standing by holding back or delaying an introverted person’s promotions. Many introverts internalize their issues and are lees likely to speak up than the introvert.

This is not to say that there are not a number of powerful and successful introverts amongst us in positions of leadership or positions that are held in high regards. Some of those people and how they operate include the likes of Bill Gates, who practices deep thinking techniques prior to making decisions. Warren Buffet has a knack for thinking long term and keeping his cool when others panic. Others, like Steve Jobs, know their deficiencies and team up with extroverts, such as Steve Wozniak, in order to balance themselves out (Unknown, 2016).

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For those who do not possess the instincts that those successful businessmen mentioned above have, there are other options for management to help draw out the abilities of introverts. If put in the right positions and situations, they can prove just how valuable they are to your company. If not engaged in the proper manner, you will find yourself missing out on a large portion of “the next great ideas.” You could also experience high turnover due to employees feeling unwanted, overlooked, or ignored. When conducting group discussions, don’t expect the introvert to voluntarily provide you with the solutions that you are seeking. You may have to directly solicit that information from them in order to draw out answers or ask for responses afterwards so that they can take the time to internally process the information before drawing a conclusion or idea. Other behaviors to help draw out introverts and help them become a more solid participant are inclusion, respect, and rewards (Smith, 2018). When introverts feel like there is a concerted effort to bring them into the team, they are more likely to participate.

After I retired from the Marine Corps, it became my new mission to find long term employment in a career field that I would be happy in and one that would be a good fit for an introvert. I have participated in quite a few career fairs and hiring events in order to put myself directly in front of the people who could make the decisions to interview and hire me. I was hoping to be able to make a good impression in person as opposed to trying to get interviews by my resume alone. Considering I do not have a degree, I am put at a disadvantage from the start. I was handing my resume out to everyone and the only calls I was getting were for sales positions, which are not the best fit for an introvert. When networking, it is best to try to find out what companies are going to be there and focus on three or four that you think would be the best fit for you and then target them. This way you can spend more time making a lasting impression through lengthier conversations instead of the 20 second elevator pitch (Flournoy, 2018). This method allowed me to find a job that I thought was a good fit for me. Although I didn’t remain there, it allowed me the time necessary to locate and apply for the right jobs and now I am in a position that is great for an introvert.

Group gatherings and social events are not something that I look forward to either. I feel sort of awkward in those events because I don’t enjoy hanging out and chit chatting. I believe if I have something of value to say, I will say it. If not, then I am usually quiet at least until I get to know you and become more comfortable around you. If I feel included or valued in the group, then I will participate. There have been times in my career where I believe my reluctance to socialize with co-workers and supervisors after hours has cost me the opportunity to move up or has prevented me from being chosen for more difficult assignments that help prove your abilities and put you on the right path to move upward. It isn’t that I am not capable as I have shown throughout my career that I can succeed at most any task. It’s just that when you are an introvert, you are not looking to win the popularity contests and unfortunately that is what many people base advancements on. If you are vocal and can be the center of the office, you may be more highly recommended due to popularity and because more people associate with and get to know you than the person who is quiet yet still capable of performing the job. A lot of that boils down to respect. Respect is remembering that you are a person who should be treated as equal to everyone else. As such, the leader should help the introvert and extrovert equally better themselves. They should demonstrate through their actions how they expect the up and coming leader to act and perform then allow the junior to find their way to best accomplish the mission (Smith, 2018). When the results are seen, judge the success or failure based on those and the methods that they used to get there.

In the end, your success is truly up to you. I think the best options for an introvert are simply to understand what you are and what makes you tick and then focus your future in trying to find employment in the areas that make you happy. Once you get the position, work hard, treat people with fairness, dignity, and respect and your work ethic will have an impact on those around you. It may take a little more effort for introverts to stand out and get noticed but that is nothing we are not use to. Continue to do the right things and it will get noticed and the opportunities for advancement will come. Introversion is not something that is going to go away. Especially considering we live every day in a world that is becoming more digital and we spend more time interacting with each other from behind a screen than in person. This may end up becoming a benefit for the introvert.

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Being An Introverted Leader And How It Affects Upward Mobility. (2022, February 21). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 4, 2023, from
“Being An Introverted Leader And How It Affects Upward Mobility.” Edubirdie, 21 Feb. 2022,
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