Considering how much of entrepreneurship is about networking, you’d think that introverts could never make for business leaders, leave alone good ones. As you know, introverts are people who turn inwards for their needs, often enjoying solitude more than the company of people. How can such people possibly go on to become great business leaders with the power to influence the opinions of thousands, if not millions, of staff and consumers?
Turns out, introverts can make for great business leaders because of their awareness of themselves. If you don’t believe us, go through this list and see for yourself.
Bill Gates is the very definition of how looking for answers within is the best approach to problem solving. In a Lifehacker interview, he spoke about how he handles a problem — he goes away to a quiet place, far from civilisation, and turns to books and experience for a solution. Once he has that, he hires extroverts for the execution bit. Key takeaway: Leverage your personality traits and hire people to do what you know you cannot.
That Mark Zuckerberg is an introvert has been made obvious by the many interviews he has given over time, as well as the fairly controversial movie, The Social Network. He often comes across as aloof, and is visibly nervous when interviews cross uncharted territory. Complementing him with her excellent interpersonal skills and firm loyalty is Sheryl Sandberg, who always mentions how much Mark cares for his employees. Lesson #2: When your nature is to stay miles away from people, hire a people person as your wingman.
Sometimes, even behemoths such as Google need more than a leader who can deliver motivating speeches. Both its former and current CEOs are known introverts. Larry Page could never hold a keynote address like Steve Jobs, which is precisely what Google needed — an executive with his head down, solving problems. Sometimes, all we really need is to make an excellent product and let it do the talking.
Leadership can be unforgiving on the other gender, as Hillary Clinton famously mentioned — being powerful needs to be peppered with not being intimidating. Imagine what this tightrope walk would mean for Marissa Mayer, who, by her personal admission, has to force herself into staying at gatherings for a set time period. This hasn’t stopped the quiet, reserved head of Yahoo! from stepping in at a very bad time for the business and doing her best to turn it around. Sometimes, introverts make great leaders simply because they’re completely deaf to external criticism.
Introverts are long-term thinkers, which perhaps explains Warren Buffet’s excellent investment choices. The First Introvert of the business world if there is such a thing, he believes in delegating tasks to trusted employees, then avoiding all kinds of interference in their jobs. Both these personality traits stem from being someone who is less about showmanship and more focused on results — a foolproof strategy for business success.