A leader is someone who is able to convince people to follow their beliefs or has the ability to take charge of a situation. Everybody has an opinion on how a leader should act, and the debate brings up a relevant question. What qualities go into a good leader? The answer to this question lies right at the root of a person’s personality.

Almost everyone can be classified as either an introvert or an extrovert. An extrovert is an outspoken person who tends to be exceptionally vocal and direct. Introverts on the other hand, are typically more passive and restrained. Due to their reserved nature, some people question the ability of introverts to successfully lead. Introverts are often overlooked when it comes to leadership positions, because it’s assumed that they cannot keep up with the outgoing ways of their extroverted counterpart. Extroverts usually enjoy taking charge of a situation and stepping into power, so it is natural to think that they would thrive in a position of leadership. However, this does not mean that introverted people cannot be as strong of an authority figure. When it comes to history, many figures of authority tended to be extroverted. Yet, many notable introverts have shown exceptional influence and control. Gandhi, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Rosa Parks are perfect examples of famously introverted people that changed the world with their leadership.

When people in charge are more outspoken, it can make the people working with them feel that their voice does not matter as much. According to the Harvard business school working knowledge, less outspoken leaders have a tendency to seem more open to listening to the ideas of the people they have jurisdiction over. Meanwhile, some more forthright people in charge, do a lot of talking and not as much listening. They can sometimes forget to listen to what the followers want.

“By creating a work environment where people feel free to speak up and be proactive, the organization is creating the right place for introverted leaders to be successful.” Said Carmen Nobel, a writer for the Harvard business school working knowledge website. Another article from the Atlantic by Olga Khazan stated, “Studies on introverted leaders have shown that they are not any less effective than their more gregarious counterparts, and studies have even shown that humbler leaders can inspire better-functioning management teams.”

When it comes to the qualities of good leaders, people tend to think about assertiveness and outspoken people. Even in modern day leadership positions, we can see these expectations present. But, people of a quieter, more reclusive nature can do the job just as well.  With leaders becoming less afraid to vocalize their opinions, it is important to always remember that there’s nothing wrong with leading people quietly.

story by natalie gill, graphics by elliot evans

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