Can Introverts Be Great Leaders?
David Freund, Chief Leadership Officer
When we think of leaders, we often have visions of outgoing people who are larger than life. Perhaps we see former American presidents who gave stirring speeches or took charge in times of conflict. Is that an accurate perception of what it takes to be a leader? What about people who are more introverted? Can we even ask them to lead? The two DISC behavior profiles that are more introverted are Steadiness (S) and Compliant (C). The key to leading regardless of your behavior profile is self-awareness, so anyone who is self-aware can learn to leverage the strengths of their profile and minimize the weaknesses. Let’s look at two introverted men who were amazing presidents.
George Washington was our first president and a celebrated military leader. He was an introverted man of few words who lead courageously in times of great uncertainty. His ability to formulate plans and execute them allowed him to lead the army that would win the Revolutionary War. He then worked tirelessly to help establish a stable government. Many wanted to make him king and yet his humble servant heart would not allow that. He was the only president to win every electoral vote in two elections. Even with all that support, he refused to allow himself to run for a third term.
Dwight Eisenhower, our 34th president, was also a celebrated military leader who served in two World Wars and rose to the rank of a five-star general in the United States Army. In his last assignment as a general in the Army, he served as supreme commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces in Europe. He was elected president in 1952 and served two full terms. As president, he quickly assessed that the war in Korea was not winnable and negotiated a peace treaty. Not one American serviceman died in combat during Eisenhower’s presidency. Like our first president, President Eisenhower was an introvert who didn’t like the limelight. He used his strengths as a strategist to propel himself to the highest service for his country.
The key for all leaders is knowing who you are and leveraging your strengths. You need to stay in your sweet spot and staff areas where you may struggle. If you would like to hear more about leading with an introverted behavior style, please join Marisa and me as we answer this question in more depth on Episode 101 of The Next Page.