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  • Tamar Balkin

Is Extraversion Essential For Effective Leadership?

"Don't speak, I know just what you're sayin'

So please stop explainin'"

Don’t Speak by No Doubt (click here for the song) Eric Barker on Instagram 28/3/22


“ there was a person in my team that I didn’t like, they emulated all the extroverted behaviour that I am uncomfortable doing, speaking up in meetings, promoting the work of their team.. I need to gain the confidence to behave like that in order to progress in my career.”



What is extraversion?

Extraversion is defined as the extent to which someone is outgoing, active, assertive, enthusiastic, and sociable with others. Interestingly, The Hogan personality assessment distinguishes between two different aspects of extraversion: ambition; and need for social interaction. People with high ambition enjoy taking charge of situations accept difficult challenges, have high self-confidence are willing to assume positions of authority, and are confident in social settings. Sociability is the degree to which a person needs or enjoys interacting with others. Those with high sociability tend to be talkative, approachable build relationships with a large variety of people, they are busy and full of energy. Typically extraverted individuals receive more social attention at work, they are more likely to be heard and may have appear to have more influence.

Why are extroverts perceived as leaders?


“Extraverts are often perceived as more effective leaders because of a “halo effect.” “This may occur because extraverted leaders match the prototypes of charismatic leaders that dominate both [Western and Eastern cultures] and are especially prevalent in business,”

Adam Grant


Researchers have found that the ideal leadership profile was the open and relations-oriented leader, characterised by being extraverted, possessing good social skill, being change-oriented and being low in anxiety. People high in sociability, as well as other traits like assertiveness, are often perceived as the stereotypical leader-type, socially fluent and assertive. Indeed, extraversion has often implicitly and explicitly been linked to leadership: Extraverts often express confidence, assertiveness and enthusiasm, and they are attributed high status, and as a result they often emerge as leaders. Researchers, have found that individuals who are socially assertive tend to speak up often, signalling competence and confidence.Their non-verbal behaviours like looking the part or sitting at the head of a table may also be interpreted by others as conforming to what it means to be a leader.

Downside of extraversion

The tendency of some extroverts to dominate conversations by speaking too much, or quickly bounce form one conversation to another, wanting to be the centre of attention may be infuriating to others who feel their comments or ideas are being ignored. The excitement seeking extravert might struggle to maintain her enthusiasm for the more mundane tasks and interactions with their subordinates. Although a certain amount of assertiveness is necessary for being viewed as a leader, too much can give the impression that the leader is focused on getting their own way to the detriment of the needs of others. Extraverted leaders’ tendency to be motivated by a desire for status often manifests in boasting about their past achievements or exaggerating what they have done, this is disconcerting to others. Extraverted leaders who like to be the centre of attention tend to be threatened by employee proactivity and likely to listen carefully to suggestions from others thus potentially limiting creativity and innovation. Although sociable leaders may be perceived as friendly and caring to subordinates, they may also be more inclined to talk rather than working or listen. Researchers have found that while extraverted individuals tend to emerge as leaders, due to some of the inherent characteristics and behaviours described above they are not always able to maintain this status over time.

What are the advantages of introverted leaders?

Recent research has demonstrated that that in some contexts, introverts are equal or even superior leaders.

  • They listen to their managers, employees, clients, and everyone else around them. They tend to be better listeners, empathising with their staff when they're frustrated about something and taking their concerns into account.

  • They form strong relationships. There is a misunderstanding that Introverts are solitary, shy individuals, yet they are adept at developing excellent working relationships and opportunities for collaboration with colleagues they trust.

  • They can be more productive as they are content with letting their proactive employees take the spotlight. They do all they can to support their people in the background and to make their top performers feel valued.

What are the advantages of extroverted leaders?

  • They tend to find it easy to make decisions on the fly and demand the same of others, particularly if there is the need to take calculated risks.

  • They are adept at social situations, comfortable in various social circumstances and are proficient at persuasion.

  • Their enthusiasm can be contagious and can have a positive impact on their colleagues.

So what about my client?

As the coaching session came to an end my client reflected. “My colleague came unstuck, when management realised there was no substance to her claims, her team were actually underperforming and she wasn't pulling her weight. I guess influence comes in many forms and perhaps the being the loudest most verbal person in the room without justification is least effective”.

Final thoughts

Researchers have found that excessive assertiveness had adverse social outcomes, while insufficient assertiveness had negative impact on performance. In addition leaders who struck the right balance between warmth and assertiveness were liked by their peers. This implies that the ideal degree to which these traits are expressed is somewhere in the middle. Regular readers would be aware that effective leadership transcends one aspect of personality and is also highly dependent on emotional intelligence and self-awareness. Irrespective of their personality type it is essential for leaders to create a psychologically safe workplace, to act with integrity and kindness and to be willing to receive and act upon feedback. A good leader shows enthusiasm about what they do and remains objective despite the challenges they face.



Podcasts, Focus, G. and America, N. (n.d.). Analyzing Effective Leaders: Why Extraverts Are Not Always the Most Successful Bosses. [online] Knowledge@Wharton. Available at: ‌Landis, B; Jachimowicz, J; Wang, D; Krause, R; (2022) Revisiting Extraversion and Leadership Emergence: A Social Network Churn Perspective. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (In press). Firsthand. (n.d.). Introvert vs. Extrovert: Who Makes a Better Leader. [online] Available at: ‌Karlsen, H.R. and Langvik, E. (2021). Facet level effects of extraversion on leadership behaviours rated by subordinates. Cogent Psychology, 8(1), p.1930712.

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