Study Says Introverts Make the Best CEOs

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Are you surprised?

Man on stairs with satchel between his feet

If you’re a lifelong introvert, you’re probably thinking there’s a ceiling you’ll hit at work. ‘The top jobs always go to the outgoing ones’, your internal monologue might say. But if you look a little closer, as The CEO Genome Project did, you’ll find the complete opposite is true.

A study performed by consultancy firm ghSmart covering 10 years of research, included the assessment of more than 2,000 CEOs, along with comparative analysis of demographics, behavioural patterns and discussions with board members to determine the real, underlying commonalities between successful company leaders.

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The results contrasted decidedly from our typical imaginings of a high-flying CEO – confident, university educated and completely devoid of career-altering mistakes – and were actually more complex than that.

“We’ve been struck by how few of the successful leaders we’ve encountered fit [the] profile,” Elena Lytkina Botelho, the founder of CEO Genome Project founder explained to Harvard Business Review. “Our analysis revealed that while boards often gravitate toward charismatic extroverts, introverts are slightly more likely to surpass the expectations of their boards and investors.”

More interestingly still was the discovery that only seven per cent of leaders went to an elite high school and 45 per cent of leaders had been responsible for a considerable eff-up at work – from costing their company money or making a grave error in their previous job.

When it comes to leadership, it was less about introversion and more about having one of four common characteristics: possessing the ability to make quick decisions with conviction, being able to interact well with stakeholders, being open to change, and having notable adaptability, as well being able to deliver reliable, consistent results, as opposed to peaks and troughs of success.

The moral of the story? Just do you and see where it gets you.

To see where you fit on the potential CEO scale, do the assessment yourself here.

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