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Introverted CEOs: 8 Advantages + Examples

Some believe extroverts make the best CEOs, but introverted CEOs bring a lot to the table. Learn the advantages of introverted CEOs here!

A common misconception in business is that you need to be an extrovert to succeed and to be a leader. Monumental leaders like Abraham Lincoln, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg all found success as self-proclaimed introverts and have all been seen as excellent leaders. While extroverts may be effective in creating relationships, networking, and facilitating presentations, introverts and extroverts are both perfectly able to build good relationships with their teams.

Because introverts offer all kinds of advantages in leadership and can make fantastic CEOs, this article will cover what an introverted CEO is, 8 distinct advantages of having an introverted CEO, and some examples of successful introverted CEOs. 

What is an introverted CEO? 

An introverted chief executive officer (CEO) is an individual who works at the highest level of the organization and has a personality type which makes them more comfortable focusing on their inner thoughts, ideas, and innovations, rather than on what is happening around them, externally. Many people believe that introverts are shy or quiet, but this simply isn’t true. Introverts do, however, gain energy from spending time alone, unlike extroverts who thrive off of social interactions. An introverted CEO is, therefore, more likely to operate behind the scenes and be the brains behind the decision-making in an organization rather than the person bringing these ideas forward. 

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8 qualities of an introverted CEO

1Gives employees autonomy 

First, an introverted CEO is more likely to give employees autonomy. This is explained well by Caroline Castrillon, Founder of Corporate Escape Artist, in a recent Forbes article:

“Because they are not looking for attention, introverted managers let their proactive employees take the spotlight. While extroverts can get sidetracked seeking validation, introverts do anything possible to support their team and make top performers feel valued.”

Often, giving employees autonomy is much more effective than some leaders’ habits of micromanaging and constantly following up with their teams. 

2Encourages written communication 

An introverted CEO will also encourage written communication over verbal communication. This means fewer meetings and a more effective pace to work at. Not only will the organization save time and money by cutting back on meetings, but the organization will also benefit from using asynchronous communication which allows people to work remotely more seamlessly, especially when you have employees in different time zones. Written communication is more efficient and means leadership will need to be picky about which topics should be followed up on in a meeting.

3Has great listening skills

Introverted CEOs are also great listeners. Because introverts spend a good amount of time with themselves, they are typically thoughtful with their words and intentional with them when they do speak; they’re also usually practicing active listening. As such, they may be more empathetic and understanding of their employees. In the same great article by Forbes, Caroline Castrillon shares: 

“In general, introverts are great at listening to and empathizing with people. This trait is especially valuable when dealing with clients and employees when listening and asking the right questions is essential. Introverts don’t speak unless they have something worthwhile to say and remain calm amid chaos. Taking a step back to observe and analyze a situation is their strong suit.”

4Is a good one-on-one communicator

When it comes to one-on-one communication, introverted CEOs are comfortable and effective because they are more comfortable focusing on one person versus a larger group. Paul O’Brien, CEO of MediaTech Ventures, elaborates on this idea, explaining: 

“[… introverted CEOs] prefer the one on one and the personal meetings. They listen. In Organizations, that tends to mean fewer wasteful meetings with groups (introverts don’t like them), and more personal encounters and conversations getting to know individuals. That’s leadership.”

5Is passionate 

Introverted CEOs and leaders tend to be truly passionate about their jobs. They don’t focus their leadership role on being the center of attention or always being heard by others. As such, their efforts are typically put into their work, where they create ideas that they are truly passionate about, for the success of the business. Rather than focusing on individual recognition, introverted CEOs tend to focus on the success and good of the company above all else. Passionate ideas generated by introverted leaders are often those which innovate and revolutionize industries. 

6Is creative

Creativity tends to be another quality of introverted CEOs. Many people believe that there is a link between being introverted and being creative. In fact, a huge percentage of our world’s greatest artists, writers, entrepreneurs, scientists and inventors were introverts. This enjoyment of working alone and spending much time in contemplation surface excellent creative ideas that can be translated through the business. Creativity is a hugely sought-after skill for CEOs, as industries continue to evolve at a rapid pace. 

7Fosters work-life balance 

Introverted CEOs are also better at fostering work-life balance. Because introverts enjoy spending time alone, they truly value their time away from the office to refuel and refresh their minds. O’Brien explains how in a world where we are now always accessible due to technology, it is more important than ever to take time away from work: 

“[…] in our era of smartphones and always-available, I’ve hacked my phone so it doesn’t give me alerts, doesn’t take calls, and weekends, my team knows I’m not working. Family first. It’s my time, as an introvert. And that my-time is because people need time. My family, so we can talk, so we can read, so we can recharge.”

8Uses analytical thinking when problem solving 

Leaders who are introverts are also advantageous to any organization as they use analytical thinking when problem solving. Because introverts enjoy being alone, these solo sessions give them valuable time to analyze problems and process any issues so they can come up with a plan to mediate them effectively and thoughtfully. This means that introverted CEOs tend not to be impulsive because they have contemplated their every decision quite thoroughly. This analytics mindset is helpful, especially when it comes to facing complex business problems because introverted CEOs can do so with a level head, knowing that they have already thought through the plan several times. 

Examples of successful introverted CEOs

  • Bill Gates 

Bill Gates remains the world’s wealthiest person and has often attributed his success to being an introvert. Some of the benefits of being an introvert, according to Bill Gates, are experiencing enjoyment in taking a few days off to contemplate a problem, reading, thinking outside of the box, and ultimately, coming up with a creative and unique idea that can take off. While Bill Gates’ management style is introverted, he has expressed how important it is to hire and work with a balance of both introverts and extroverts so you have a group of deep thinkers and a group of people who are happy to go out into the world and sell valuable ideas. 

  • Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg is the founder and CEO of Meta (formerly Facebook) and is a leader who has revolutionized the way we use and consume social media. Many people have attested that Mark Zuckerberg is an introvert and found success through many years of contemplation and problem solving. We can see that the evolution from Facebook to Meta, which refers to “metaverse” (virtual reality environments), encapsulates a further revolution in social media that Zuckerberg is able to lead, yet again. Sheryl Sandberg, former COO of Facebook, said that although Mark Zuckerberg is introverted, he truly cares about his employees.

  • Larry Page

Larry Page is the co-founder of Google and became the organization’s CEO in 2011. While it was said that several people had made comments about how Page may be an odd choice for a CEO due to his more reserved, techie-infused personality, despite these critics, Larry Page went on to buy YouTube and restructured the company under the subsidiary of a holding company called Alphabet Inc., to which Page also became the CEO. While Page is no longer the CEO of Alphabet Inc., he remains on the board of directors and has encouraged the evolution of the world’s largest and most readily used search engine. 

Parting advice

In episode 100 of our Supermanagers podcast, David Sacks, General Partner at Craft Ventures shares: 

“You don’t need to be like a super charismatic type of person, which is what we think about when the word leadership comes up, we always think about somebody with like a lot of innate charisma. But that’s not really necessary to be an effective manager.”

Effective management or leadership isn’t inherently linked to being extroverted. Introverted leaders and CEOs bring some exceptional qualities to the table that cannot be ignored. Introverted CEOs might be better bosses than you imagined after all. To any introvert aspiring to become a CEO, you do not need to change who you are to lead. You bring some fantastic attributes and qualities to the table that the right organization will truly value.

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Konstantin Tsiryulnikov

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