Forbes published an article at the end of 2009 titled "Why Introverts Can Make The Best Leaders" which I just discovered. The article discusses (not surprisingly!) why introverts can draw on their trait to become a successful leader. This really resonated with me as an introvert living in an extrovert's world.
So what is an introvert? Introversion is a tendency towards inflection, to look within yourself for your energy, rather than relying on an external source. Introverts tend to be seen as shy or reserved, but this is not always the case. Anyway, read the wiki link if you need more information.
The traits that the article highlights are as follows:
Thinking about this, it actually starts to make sense. A leader needs to be someone reliable, and focussed on the task at hand. Drawing on my experience with managers and decision-makers in my past few jobs, it does actually seem to be true- a lot of the extrovert leaders that I have come across have spent a lot of time in meetings, discussing the broader points, or discussing items without a full understanding of the topic.
This is something I have been seeing first hand recently, since the departure of my manager and taking on some of his responsibilities. The amount of meetings that I have been to in the past month that could have been summed up by a paragraph in an email is astounding. The amount of time I have wasted explaining why someone's idea won't work because they don't have all the information is also quite frustrating.
On the other hand, there have been some interactions that have been quite pleasant and efficient. Our account manager at our mobile dealer is one example. All requests are done via email, and always done to the letter. This is the efficiency I crave.
At the end of the day however, I don't think a leadership position is for me. Yes, I may have some traits that facilitate good leadership, but I think that extroverts have just as many benefits to the role. Ultimately I guess it comes down to the environment you are working in, and the team that you work with. Though it is interesting to see a positive spin put on a trait that is often seen as a negative...