Think of a business leader. What do you see? Is it a hard-charging, charismatic, sociable and aggressive person? Someone who has risen to the top not only through business acumen, but also through a large network of contacts?
Unsurprisingly, this has been the popular and resounding perception in recent years. In fact, a poll conducted by Harvard Business Review in 2006 revealed that 65 per cent of executives viewed introversion as a barrier to success.
But that was over a decade ago, and since then we’ve all seen first-hand that introverts can make excellent leaders.
The archetypal leaders of today – whether it be Jeff Bezos, Arianna Huffington, or Barack Obama – who are and have been at the helm of the world’s most important organisations are indeed introverts. They came to be successful not only due to a change in perceptions, but also thanks to our transformative digital world. The way we work across digital channels has enabled a new breed of leaders, bolstered by agile working and online communication.
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At least half of my colleagues at Oliver Wyman lean more towards introversion than extroversion, so it’s very important that we recognise the diverse ways in which people prefer to work and interact.