Leaders and team personalities matter. ”When employees are proactive, introverted managers lead them to earn higher profits. When employees are not proactive, extraverted managers lead them to higher profits”.
… introverted leaders can be more effective than extraverts in certain circumstances. The determining factor is who leaders are managing, according to … [Adam] Grant … Gino … and … Hofmann … in the Academy of Management Journal, … titled “Reversing the Extraverted Leadership Advantage: The Role of Employee Proactivity.”
Extraverted leadership involves commanding the center of attention: being outgoing, assertive, bold, talkative and dominant. This offers the advantages of providing a clear authority structure and direction. However, pairing extraverted leaders with employees who take initiative and speak out can lead to friction, while pairing the same group of employees with an introverted leader can be a pathway to success, the researchers note. This has implications for leaders and managers at all levels who want to improve their own leadership styles. “If you look at existing leadership research, extraversion stands out as the most consistent and robust predictor of who becomes a leader and who is rated an effective leader,” Grant says. “But I thought this was incomplete. It tells us little about the situations in which introverted leaders can be more effective than extraverted leaders.”
So he and his fellow researchers began looking at the issue through the lens of a business that could easily track productivity and team effectiveness — pizza delivery franchises. [....]
What Grant and his colleagues found was a simple inverse relationship: When employees are proactive, introverted managers lead them to earn higher profits. When employees are not proactive, extraverted managers lead them to higher profits. “These proactive behaviors are especially important in a dynamic and uncertain economy, but because extraverted leaders like to be the center of attention, they tend to be threatened by employee proactivity,” Grant notes. “Introverted leaders, on the other hand, are more likely to listen carefully to suggestions and support employees’ efforts to be proactive.”
Pairing an extraverted leader with a proactive team, he says, can hurt, not just hinder, the company’s effectiveness. “Once the extraverted leader responds in a less receptive way, that becomes discouraging for employees and makes them less willing to work hard,” Grant states. “It may also make them less willing to share ideas in the future, which would limit creativity and innovation.”
In fact, the personality conflicts can lead to a power struggle within an organization, openly pitting leaders against employees. This is especially true in companies or groups with a flat hierarchy — for example, if the leaders were recently promoted from the peer level, or if a new leader’s competence and skills are not yet established. Such situations would “be much more likely to lead employees to challenge, and leaders to feel threatened,” a situation known as “status uncertainty,” according to Grant.
Analyzing Effective Leaders: Why Extraverts Are Not Always the Most Successful Bosses | Adam Grant | Nov. 23, 2010 | Knowledge@Wharton at
Adam M. Grant, Francesca Gino, David A. Hofmann, “Reversing the Extraverted Leadership Advantage: The Role of Employee Proactivity”, Academy of Management Journal, volume 54, n3, pp. 528-550, cached at