C-Suite Network™

Successful Introverted CEOs

As a new CEO, your employees expect you to be an extrovert with an outgoing, gregarious personality. Most people have the perception of a successful CEO as being an extrovert. But, in reality, you are a successful introvert who has mastered the ability to act like an extrovert.

There are many ingredients to success and many entrepreneurs who are introverts have their own challenges to deal with when it comes to business success. Introverts typically find several traditional situations too exhausting and draining.

According to research, about 70 percent of CEO’s describe themselves as “introverts”. The list of well-known “Who’s Who” of corporate introverted CEOs includes: Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, movie magnate Steven Spielberg, and Sara Lee’s Brenda Barnes. Introverts make up 40 percent of the population. Considered as introverts, these CEO’s, at times, are able to move far enough towards “extrovert status” to be considered ambiverts. Ambiverts are those who fall in the middle between extroverts and introverts. At times, they can function well in many different situations.

Thriving in corporate America as a shy/introverted executive, you may find yourself moving up the corporate ladder in your organization. Take into consideration the characteristics possessed by introverts. Introverts value privacy, need quiet time alone to recharge, feel more comfortable being alone than being with others, prefer to know a few people well (this fits for many CEOs who are “lonely at the top” and confide in a small circle of friends), like to work independently or with one or two other people, prefer to focus on one thing at a time, communicate best one-to-one, and prefer to communicate in writing instead of through talking. Before speaking, introverts think first then act on what they think about. They prefer listening more than talking, rehearse things before saying them, and are perceived as “great listeners”.

One common trait of highly successful executives is that of being creative. Since introverts spend a lot of their time alone, they are among the most creative individuals in business. Introverts, who are highly effective in completing tasks, can usually get away with saying little, but when they do speak, it is meaningful.

Introverts are also considered self-sufficient, confident, hardworking, having firm goals, reserved, being educated to overcompensate for the lack of social skills, and being Rhodes Scholars. Among people with PhDs, there are three introverts to every one extrovert.

On the other hand, extroverts typically have lots of friends; feel drained when they are bored and alone; are energized when they are with other people; are motivated to action; tend to be sociable with others, talkative, and assertive; prefer face-to-face verbal communication rather than written communication; are ready to share personal information easily to others; and respond to situations quickly. Jonathan Rauch, a self-proclaimed introverted correspondent for The Atlantic and a senior writer for National Journal, wrote a short article on introverted CEO’s that states: “Leave an extrovert alone for two minutes and s/he will reach for his/her cell phone.” Rauch also said that “In contrast, introverts need to turn off and recharge.”

Introverts are among the most successful people in the world. As an introvert, you need to find your own ingredients to success. For as an introvert, while you may not appear as if you have mastered the ability to act like an extrovert, you have the ability to demonstrate that you can be just as successful as other people. Introverts have to train themselves well enough to work through their reserved characteristics and know what they want to do with their career. As an introverted entrepreneur, you have a lot to offer the business world, but you still prefer to grab as little of the spotlight as possible. Do not let being an introvert stop you from reaching your goals − you have the ability and skills to get the job done!

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