Make introverts better leaders than extroverts


April 8, 2017, 9:58 pm

As a child, Susan Cain was so shy that she would hide in her room when the doorbell rang. The first day of school in a new class was a real torture.

Even as an adult, she could not completely shed her shyness. When she has to speak in front of an audience, it tingles in the stomach area. So Susan Cain is still a little shy. And besides, she's an introvert. However, the one should not be confused with the other, explains the author: Those who are shy are afraid of being judged negatively by others. Introvertedness, on the other hand, describes where you get your energy from. What can be considered stimulating or perhaps a to feels stimulating.

Susan Cain loves to spend her evenings with her husband and children. Introversion or extroversion comes in gradual shades. Every now and then, Susan Cain enjoys going out. But after two hours it is enough for her. Extroverts, on the other hand, find two hours with people to be invigorating and only then really get going.

Men indeed asked

"According to the latest statistics, 50 percent of Americans are introverted," says Cain. "And if that applies to the USA, it is also the case elsewhere. Because the USA is considered the most extroverted nation in the world. That is good to know, because it means that every second person you deal with is Introverts. Many introverts have adopted a different way of self-presentation. That is, they pretend to be different from who they are. Their psychological needs are therefore never met; they can never really recharge their batteries. This is both for themselves , as well as a disadvantage for employers and life partners. "

The reason why Americans in particular are considered extroverts lies in the story, says the author. Americans once fought hard for their independence, and every child learns this at school:

"At the time, Americans viewed the British as aristocrats with a pronounced penchant for reading and thus idle people. Americans saw themselves as people who had to build a new nation. What was needed was not the man of thought, but the proverbial man This figure was revered in US society. These characteristics formed the basis of the country. At the beginning of the 20th century there was something else: the explosion of big business. Until then, Americans lived in small communities where everyone knew each other Now they are crowding into the city and into large companies. For the first time, the question arose for individuals: How do I present myself in a world that doesn't know me? How do I best sell myself? "

This development led to a boom in self-help literature, albeit with a completely new tenor. In the 19th century, one became a better person by cultivating inner virtues. In the 20th century you had to learn to present yourself charismatically and in the best possible light. According to the author, this principle is instilled in you at school and later at elite universities such as Harvard Business School.

Where action is everything and reflection is nothing

There is a rich selection of self-help gurus for those who do not learn it at school or college. The most prominent: Tony Robbins, who was also consulted by politicians such as Bill Clinton. Susan Cain attended one of his seminars for research.

"One thing saved me: I'm an introvert who loves to dance," says Cain. "Tony Robbins' seminars are basically like a gigantic rock concert. I liked that aspect. But apart from that I felt very strange. I was in a world where action was everything and thinking was nothing. I felt very uncomfortable because I live for thought. I don't feel comfortable in an environment in which this is disregarded and ignored. "

Extroversion is so much considered an ideal that the trait is automatically assigned to anyone with a positive image. Even Jesus. Although the Bible repeatedly describes that Jesus was looking for solitude, religious US students still believe that Jesus was an extrovert.

Introverted bosses better for the team

Studies have shown that the people who are the first to speak and put themselves in the limelight are perceived as people with leadership qualities. They are trusted to have competence simply because of their behavior. They may have them - or they may not. Therefore, extroverts are promoted more quickly in companies. But new studies are rehabilitating the introverts, says Susan Cain:

"If a group of proactive, motivated people is headed by an introverted leader, that group will do a lot more than under an extrovert. The reason: Introverts have less need to dominate; to implement their own vision. It suits their personality, others to develop, to develop new ideas and to have them implemented. That is difficult for extroverts. However, if a group of people is unmotivated, then they achieve more with an extroverted leader, because he knows how to inspire and cheer others. "

Practicing alone produces better results

Under what circumstances do people do their best? What makes them inventors or virtuosos? How do you become the best in your field? The Swedish psychologist Anders Ericsson dealt with these questions. "He thought: It takes so-called 'targeted practice'", says Cain. "It requires such a high level of concentration that you can only do it on your own. At the Hochschule für Musik in Berlin, the teachers divided the students into groups for him: the extraordinarily good violin players and the less promising ones. The students all had a workbook Ericsson found out: The best practiced more time alone. The others practiced the same number of hours, but in a group and not alone. "

Times are getting better for the introverts. There are indications in the media that the so-called nerds - i.e. the bores, eccentric people and crazy loners - are being rehabilitated. Because quite a few - from Apple's Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs to Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg - made it to fame and fortune in the computer and Internet world. Susan Cain hopes that the introverts will be valued more in the future even without a few billion in the account.


Susan Cain, "Still. The importance of introverts in a noisy world", translated from the American by Franchita Mirella Cattani and Margarethe Randow-Tesch, Riemann Verlag

Riemann Verlag - Susan Cain
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