I like to think of myself as creative, and I’ve learned I am more of an introvert (ISFJ) and a protector according to the Briggs Meyers personality test I took a couple weeks ago. Of course, I kind of knew that going in.
After reading the summaries, I have to be honest, I thought that where I am professionally and personally, I have peaked. I am where I am, and there’s nothing I can do about it. It was almost reassuring, yet discouraging at the same time. Then I thought, why would we allow a test to totally define who we are? Our whole lives we’re told we have control over who we are, who we become, and nothing stands in our way except for our own apprehension, insecurity, or doubt.
Then, almost serendipitously, a couple articles came across my Reader. One, “Are the people in your organization too smart to be creative” and “Introverted employees make the best leaders“.
The first cites an IBM global survey of more than 1,500 CEOs, who identified”creativity as the most important leadership competency for the successful enterprise of the future“. Good news for those of us that are seen as creative. But wait, in the same article, a study in the US and India found that “organizations may face a bias against selecting the most creative individuals as leaders in favor of selecting leaders who preserve the status quo by sticking with feasible but relatively unoriginal solutions.” The article talks about how creatives can be very vocal and rock the boat, battle the status quo. Sounds kind of extroverted. So…
Creative = Good.
Extroverted = Not always good.
Then the second article came through. “Introverted employees make the best leaders” by Jennifer B. Kahnweiler. Needless to say, that caught my attention. 4 out of 10 execs consider themselves introverts. Does that mean that 60% consider themselves extroverts? This would conflict somewhat with the US/India study in the first article that found that perhaps extroverts don’t make the best leaders. Maybe, it just means the 60% are non-creative extroverts. Either way, almost half are introverts and include names like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and perhaps President Obama. Jennifer goes on to list the reasons introverts make better leaders. Characteristics like thinking before speaking, seeking depth of understanding, being calm, writing over speaking, and embracing solitude. That’s me in a nutshell…a quiet, analytical, unshakable, loner that thrives on coming up with creative solutions to problems. So…
Introverted = good.
The way I see it, if you are a creative introvert, you just might be what companies need in terms of leadership qualities and characteristics. Just remember, opportunities to lead just don’t fall in your lap. You have to first, want them, and second, earn them, so don’t fall victim to the apprehension, insecurity, or doubt that may hold you back.
How do you lead?