Do Introverts make better CEOs in Australia?


Currently, leadership wins and losses within large organizations in Australia are attributed mainly to the business leadership, in particular, the leadership team’s CEO and their executives. Does a CEO who is an introvert make a more successful leader for Australian businesses? By Ryan Makris.

CEOs chart and navigate the business course, motivate the crew and ensure the business doesn’t stray off course into unchartered waters for the shareholders and customers.

Due to the complex structure of many corporations, the message from the boardroom does not always permeate through the business, especially to the grassroots employees on a regular basis. As there are protocols and delineation of authority, roadblocks and challenges occur due to staff self-preservation. This means bad news is not passed back up the chain to the CEO through their subordinates because extroverted CEOs may be overly forceful or animated with their reply or may have a reputation for not listening to all parties before making a decision, good or bad or indifferent on the news or data they received.

Recent research from the McGill University Professor Karl Moore said, “Introverts typically appear to be better listeners, they wait for others to express their ideas before they jump in with theirs. After studying introverts in the c-suite, I have come to the conclusion that extroverts, like myself, must put on our ‘game face’ and act like an introvert at times, in order to be effective leaders. What is good for the goose is good for the gander.

“With the increasingly turbulent environment of many industries, we must pick up the pace of change within our firms to effectively align with those fast changing environments. A key way to effectively stay aligned is going to be boundary spanning employees, with one foot in the customers/suppliers/partners world and the other in our firm. Learning is becoming more important than always being dominant. Listen more, talk less is a key lesson for extroverts. However, what my research suggests is that somewhere between 25 and 30 % of C-suite executives are more on the introverted side and. 75 % of Google’s senior leadership is introverted,” he said.

“Scientific research now shows that behaving in an introverted manner is the key to success as a leader. Like Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, and Socrates, great leaders are introverted: their behaviour is quiet, shy, reserved, and unadventurous. This enables them to empower their people to deliver results.”
Service Desk Coaching agrees and found that listening to employee concerns from their clients by their senior management consultants improved team engagement and improved results by building rapport and having authentic empathy that drove significant results. If you have a perceived plan without first listening to the troops, transparent engagement will never eventuate as they are not part of the solution, rather just a passenger in the journey. They have not contributed to the plan, so why would they care or give 100%?

Patrick McKinght, a psychology Professor at George Mason University says, “Be careful about hiring the person who is extroverted, and along with that personality, make sure they have a reputation for getting things done,” he said.

Stephen Kaplan, a Chicago Professor states: “when a company looks to hire a charismatic CEO, it tends to be disappointed.”

The authors, from the University of Chicago, Harvard and Stanford, used linguistic analysis of calls to sort 4,591 CEOs and the Researchers found that companies with CEOs who have higher scores for openness spend 10% more on research and development, compared to the mean of all the CEOs examined in the study. CEOs who scored highly in extraversive run companies with a 2% less return on assets, the converse is true. Introverted CEOS ran companies that outperformed their peers as a whole.
Service Desk Coaching agrees and their experience of CEOs who listened and engaged their audience, not only motivated their staff, their message resonated long after their meeting or presentation concluded and the culture of the business tended to mirror their behaviour.

Australian CEOs earn the high salaries due to the fact the job has enormous challenges and the responsibility to lay the foundations in strategy is extremely difficult. There are many stakeholders they must prove themselves to from the Boardroom, Directors, Managers and their staff. The strategy can also take many years to get a full grasp of, and on average the optimal life of a CEO is 4.8 years according to co-lead researcher Michelle Andrews of the Temple University Study.

CEOs really have no time to waste and this contributes to their quick but calculated decisions in their day to day operational business critical tasks. BFM

Leadership Consultant | Contributor | Influencer

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