What is it that makes someone a good leader? What kind of qualities must you have in order to make tough decisions when required, inspire devoted loyalty from your team, and boldly steer your company through sometimes choppy waters toward success?
According to conventional wisdom, it is society’s extroverts—those who are naturally more assertive and sociable—who are best suited to leadership roles. This would seem a reasonable assumption to make—after all, extroverts are outgoing and can easily and happily perform the networking and public speaking duties routinely required of a leader. Conversely, it’s often assumed that introverts—those who are quieter and more passive in nature—are better suited to roles behind the scenes where less interaction is needed.
But does this theory really hold true? Is deciding what makes a good leader as easy as identifying who performs best in front of a crowd and who tends to stand back and listen? Of course not. There’s really no universal, one-size-fits-all prescription for effective leadership. The bottom line is, as leaders, we must learn to be adaptable. In my experience, the best leaders learn when it serves to be extroverted and when it serves to be introverted.
In truth, even the traditional definitions of what constitutes an introvert or an extrovert are too limiting for the complexity of the human condition. Yes, a person may be more naturally predisposed toward one personality type than another, but no one is purely introverted or extroverted. This is why we give each of our employees at Buffini & Company a Heritage Profile. This profile more accurately paints the complex landscape of an individual’s personality than traditional definitions and allows them to perform at their best by discovering their own unique leadership style.
The ability to move between leading and following, creating ideas and reacting to them in equal measure, is a priceless skill—one that requires practice, flexibility, and, above all, a true desire to learn from others and to learn about ourselves.
Imagine a leader who could confidently set a company’s agenda and direction, something that’s second nature to an extrovert, but also be open to collaboration and the ideas of others—attributes of the stereotypical introvert. This type of leader is self-assured and assertive, but also happy to engage in self-reflection and critical thinking. He or she is decisive and driven, but also willing to listen to constructive criticism when required. It’s this individual—the one who strives to embrace and adopt traits of both introversion and extroversion—who is by far the best prototype for truly effective leadership. That’s the sort of leader who truly inspires, and I think that’s the sort of leader we should all aspire to be.
By Dermot Buffini
Dermot Buffini is CEO of Buffini & Company, North America’s largest real estate coaching and training company, which has helped over three million sales professionals in 37 different countries improve their business, increase net profit and enhance their quality of life since its founding in 1996.