HR Blog | 14 August 2015

Extroverts vs Introverts: Who makes the best Leader?


Talent management and the internal identification of future leaders is a hot corporate topic; one that often poses the question of whether an introverted or extroverted personality type is best suited to a leadership position. It’s an interesting question, as when considering the typical characteristics of a leader, many may have a natural bias towards sociable and enthusiastic extroverts.

Extroverts have a tendency to lean towards leadership roles, where they are able showcase their talent and inspire those around them. However, what is often most required from a leadership perspective is an individual that understands the business, can deal effectively with customers, can manage multiple roles simultaneously and can support the development of staff. This is something than can be effectively achieved by both extroverts and introverts.

According to JPA International president Joan Pastor[1], the key difference between an introvert and an extrovert is “where they draw their energy; what gets them going; what gets them excited.” Pastor continues, “Introverts and extroverts charge their batteries in different ways. Introverts look inward to their energy … while extroverts look to outward pursuits and social interaction.” Against this backdrop, it is clear that introverts and extroverts both have their own set of potential strengths as leaders.

What makes an effective leader?
The extroverted leader, according to Pastor, may spend more time interacting with their team. They are often excellent public speakers, able to alter their performance style in order to ensure an audience remains engaged. On the other hand, an introverted leader could serve as a great group facilitator as they are able to capture and present other people’s opinions.

Effective leaders should be able to listen, to speak clearly to employees, and be team-focused in their approach to meeting corporate objectives. It is therefore completely viable that introverts can thrive in leadership roles.

How can HR identify a suitable leadership candidate?
To facilitate the development of a leader, a HCM software solution can be used to evaluate the core competencies for a specific role and identify the profile of the individual best suited to deliver this.

Being a leader is not about having the loudest voice. HR’s role is to find candidates – either internally or externally – with the knowledge, skills and capability to perform effectively in a leadership position, as well as individuals that can demonstrate alignment with and adherence to corporate values. Great leaders, regardless of whether they are an introvert, extrovert, or have qualities from both characteristics, need to remain calm under pressure and be the benchmark for behaviour and best practice for their teams.

To find out more about managing and developing talent at all levels, download our Talent management: the challenges ahead whitepaper.