poll conducted by USA Today cited 65 percent of executives who believed introversion to be a barrier to leadership. Why is that?

 

Many leaders from Rosa Parks to Gandhi to Eleanor Roosevelt were successful introverts. Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Charles Schwab are just a few more self-described “innies.” All of these leaders were successful not in spite of, but because of their introverted nature. So what professional power did they gain from understanding their personality type?

 

Susan Cain is the author of the New York Times bestseller: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talkingand is the co-founder of Quiet Revolution, a company which works to unlock the power of introverts through initiatives in education and the workplace.

 

She recently joined the Lean In Live series on Facebook Live for a conversation on introversion and leadership. According to Cain, people generally have the wrong idea of what it is to be an introvert versus an extrovert. First off, introversion and shyness are not the same thing. Cain says, “Shyness is much more about the fear of social judgement and introversion is more simply about the preference for quieter settings.”

 

Cain explains that the difference “has to do with where you get your energy. Introverts tend to feel in more of a sweet spot when they’re in a quieter setting. Extroverts tend to feel more energized when they’re out and about. What people don’t realize is that it has to do with your nervous system, that we’re wired differently.”

 

She goes on to explain that, “Introverts have nervous systems that react more to stimulation, and that means they like it when it’s quieter. For extroverts, their nervous systems are reacting less and that means if there’s not enough going on, you start to feel kind of sluggish and like you want more to be happening, so your sweet spot is just a little bit more hyped-up environment.”

 

You often find effective leaders who are introverts who didn’t get there solely by the desire to be a leader, they just had a passion for something. In the service of that passion, they end up acquiring expertise and building networks and forging an authentic path to leadership.

 

So take a moment to read the introvert character list below and then leverage your personality strengths to lead your business no matter what side of the coin you fall on.

 

1. Introverts are prudent.

Unlike their extroverted counterparts who are more sensitive to rewards, introverts take a circumspect approach to chance. Introverts ask, “are we sure this is the right thing to do?” Risk-taking is a rite of passage yet can often feel awkward. You may vacillate between yes and no, while you weigh different options. Now you know why. Recognizing how you’re predisposed to decision-making is how you improve.

 

2. Introverts learn by listening.

Rather than the flashy chit-chat that defines social gatherings, introverts listen intently to what others say and internalize it before they speak. They’re not thinking about what to say while the other person is still talking, but rather listening so they can learn what to say. According to Cain they are “intrinsically motivated and therefore seek content regardless of achieving an external standard.”

 

3. Introverts demonstrate humility.

Not to say that extroverts aren’t humble, but introverts tend to have an accurate sense of their abilities and achievements. Humility entails the ability to acknowledge mistakes, imperfections, and limitations – all key ingredients for getting ahead in business. Being humble also indicates an openness to hear new ideas or receive contradictory information.

 

4. Introverts manage uncertainty.

Since introverts have a lower sensitivity to external rewards than extroverts, they’re more comfortable working with little information and resisting self-defeating impulses. Introverts are also more likely to persist in finding solutions that aren’t initially apparent. Finding certainty where uncertainty prevails is a huge plus for any entrepreneur or leader.

 

5. Introverts are comfortable working alone.

Even if you start a company through a partnership or joint venture, you will likely find yourself working alone at some point in your career. Introverts prefer working in isolation because it affords the greatest opportunity to focus.