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Creating Successful Leaders

In this TED talk, author Susan Cain makes the case for appreciating and accommodating introverts.

 

Her talk is insightful, and I highly recommend you watch it, but it runs almost twenty minutes, so I’ll highlight big points:

-Before all else, Cain stresses we need to be clear on what introversion is. Introversion is not the same as shyness, which is the fear of judgment from others. Extroverts, says Cain, crave social interaction, whereas introverts feel at their most capable when they are in quieter environments. The key to maximizing our talents, she says, “is for us all to put ourselves in the zone of stimulation that is right for us.”

-Workplaces nowadays are built with extroverts in mind: open offices, collaborative meetings, group projects, etc. Introverts’ work and success frequently suffer as a result.

-When it comes to leadership, introverts tend to be passed over for leadership positions. However, Cain points out that many of the greatest minds had big introverted streaks in them: Charles Darwin took long walks in the woods and turned down dinner invitations; Dr. Seuss came up with his stories alone in a bell tower of his house; Steve Wozniak, inventor of the first Apple computer, credits his expertise to devoting long hours alone studying computers.

Cain’s big point: We need a better balance between these two personality types in order to maximize creativity, productivity and cooperation in business and society.

What do you think? Where do you fall on the introvert-extrovert spectrum? How does your work environment help or hinder your success? Do you think introverts are passed up for leadership roles because they don’t fit the common view of what a leader should be?

 

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