Introverts aren’t bad leaders, or are they?

introverts as leaders
Did you know that Warren Buffet is an introvert? Source: AFP

There’s a common belief that being a leader means being loud, outgoing, and constantly in the spotlight.

This often leads people to assume that introverts, who tend to be quieter and more reserved, wouldn’t make good leaders.

But this assumption is not only unfair, it’s also flat-out wrong.

Imagine a classroom where the teacher always talks and never listens to what the students have to say. That might not be the best way to run a class, right?

Similarly, leadership isn’t just about being the loudest voice in the room — it’s about listening, understanding, and guiding others toward a common goal.

Both extroversion and introversion can get you where you need to go, but they have different strengths and styles. Just because someone isn’t the life of the party doesn’t mean they can’t lead effectively.

It’s time to bust the myth that leadership is only for the extroverted. After all, the best leaders aren’t the ones who make the most noise but the ones who inspire and empower others.

Can introverts be leaders?

A 2006 report found that 65% of people saw introversion as a barrier to leadership.

However, a 2014 research by Karl Moore, a professor at McGill University, found that a portion of CEOs and front-line leaders identify as introverted. This challenges the stereotype that only extroverts can thrive in leadership roles

Introverts bring many qualities, such as deep listening, analytical thinking and thoughtful reflection, to the table. These traits help them understand complex situations, make well-informed decisions, and foster a collaborative environment.

The introverted leaders listened carefully and made employees feel valued, motivating them to work hard. This highlights the importance of recognising and leveraging the strengths of introverted leaders.

Rather than being viewed as a limitation, introversion should be seen as a valuable asset that complements extroverted traits. 

Leaders who are introverts 

Introvert leaders may not always be the most outspoken or charismatic, but they have qualities that make them successful in their roles. 

Here are some leaders who are introverts:

  • Nelson Mandela

Mandela’s ability to listen and seek consensus in conflict situations was one of his best qualities. Despite many challenges, he maintained composure and sought peaceful resolutions. This gained him respect and paved the way for reconciliation in South Africa.

introverts as leaders

Barack Obama has shared that he is most productive in solitude. Source: AFP

  • Barack Obama

Obama’s leadership style was marked by inviting people to engage in thoughtful discussions about his ideas. He encouraged communication and collaboration. This inclusive approach helped bridge divides and enact meaningful change during his presidency.

  • Mahatma Gandhi

Gandhi’s advocacy for non-violence and gentle persuasion made him an iconic figure in the fight for independence in India. Despite his quiet demeanour, his principles and convictions resonated with millions, inspiring a movement that ultimately led to significant social and political transformation.

introverts as leaders

Steven Spielberg admits to being a quiet loner from an early age, which suited his work behind the camera. Source: AFP

  • Steven Spielberg

Spielberg is one of Hollywood’s most influential figures. Many admire his work as a director and producer. Despite working in an industry known for its glitz and glamour, he’s described himself as an introvert, immersing himself in storytelling and bringing depth to his work.

  • Warren Buffett

Buffett may be among the richest people in the world who inspire many, but he’s also an introvert who serves extremely well as a leader. His adaptability to grow and need to relate to others have been integral to his success in the financial world.

Qualities of introverts as leaders

introverts as leaders

Introverts are known to be good at making decisions as they are not impulsive. Source: AFP

Make good decisions

Unlike extroverts, who may make impulsive choices, introverts tend to weigh their options carefully, considering numerous factors before deciding.

This mostly has to do with how comfortable they are spending time alone. This time alone allows them to reflect deeply on their choices and thoroughly analyse the outcomes and implications of their decisions, reducing the risk of making hasty choices.

For example, when working together on a group project, an introverted leader may take the time to listen to input from all team members, carefully evaluating each suggestion before making a final decision. This inclusive approach increases collaboration and ensures the action is well-thought-out and effective.

What’s more, introverted leaders are good at remaining calm and composed, which allows them to maintain a clear perspective even in challenging situations. This ability to stay level-headed means they are able to navigate difficult problems with poise and precision, guiding their teams towards success.

introverts as leaders

Despite the assumptions, introverts are actually great at communicating and forming bonds. Source: AFP

Good communication skills

“Good communication” is like the secret sauce for introverts when it comes to leadership. Have you ever met someone who doesn’t speak much, but when they do, everyone listens because what they say is well thought out and meaningful? That’s how introverted leaders are. 

A big reason why they’re great at communication is because they are good listeners. They don’t just wait for their turn to speak; they listen to what others say, making other people feel heard and valued. 

This is great when working on a group project, and there’s a disagreement about how to proceed. Instead of jumping in with their own ideas right away, the introverted leader takes a step back. They listen to each person’s perspective, weighing the options carefully. Their calm and well-considered words help the team find the best solution.

A study by Harvard Business Review found that introverted leaders often have higher-performing teams. Why? Because they create an environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing ideas and opinions. 

So, “good communication” isn’t just about being the loudest voice in the room. It’s about being thoughtful and attentive and creating a space where everyone’s voice is heard. 

Good at problem-solving

Being “good at problem-solving” is one of the best qualities introverts have as leaders. Here’s why:

  1. Introverts take the time to understand all the ins and outs, leaving no stone unturned. An introverted leader will meticulously analyse every angle of their work.
  2. Research shows that introverts take more time to process information. While some might see this as a downside, it’s actually a strength. Introverts as leaders prioritise quality over quantity. They’re not interested in quick fixes or band-aid solutions. Instead, they seek a long-term solution that covers all the ground.
  3. Ever had a leader who just wouldn’t listen? Introverts are the opposite. Whether it’s listening to a teammate’s idea or understanding a customer’s needs, introverts as leaders take the time to really hear what others have to say. By actively listening, they gather insight that helps their decision-making process.
  4. Despite the stereotype that introverts aren’t social butterflies, they actually excel at forming deep, meaningful connections. While extroverts might have a larger network, introverts invest time and effort into building strong bonds with their team members or colleagues.
introverts as leaders

Introverts are open-minded when listening to suggestions and ideas from the people they are leading. Source: AFP


Being “open-minded” means being always open to new ideas, perspectives, and ways of doing things. This will help you connect with others and adapt to changing situations.

Imagine you’re an introverted leader at university, heading a group project. Being open-minded means you’re not stuck in your own ways. You listen to everyone’s ideas without judgment, even if they’re different from yours. This creates a safe space for your team to share their thoughts, boosting creativity and teamwork.

Introverts, as leaders, embrace different viewpoints and create an environment where employees feel valued and are encouraged to think outside the box. This can result in solutions to challenges.

A study by Harvard Business Review found that companies with diverse leadership teams were 45% more likely to report market share growth and 70% more likely to capture a new market. Introverted leaders who are open-minded are better equipped to build and lead diverse teams, tapping into a wider range of talents and perspectives.

Independence and self-reliance

Being “independent and self-reliant” is one of the top qualities of introverts as leaders.

First, being independent means you don’t always need someone holding your hand or telling you what to do — you figure things out on your own.

Meanwhile, being self-reliant means you trust yourself to handle stuff without constantly depending on others. This means you’re not always running to your teammates or seniors for every little thing. You can take charge and solve problems on your own, which earns you major respect.

Being independent and self-reliant means introverted leaders are great at staying focused. They don’t get distracted by what everyone else is doing. Instead, they keep their eyes on the prize and work towards their goals.

In a study by Harvard Business Review, researchers found that self-reliant leaders were more likely to succeed because they could adapt to changing situations without freaking out.