Proactive People need Listening Leaders

I’m very much enjoying Susan Cain’s “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” especially for its fresh perspective on what is one of the most obvious dimensions of personality. 

Cain refers to some recent research by Wharton’s Professor Adam Grant.  There is a good summary of the research from December 2010’s Harvard Business Review, here

In essence, Grant found that extrovert bosses were generally more successful where employees were, effectively, required to do as they were told.  Where team-members were required to be more proactive however, extrovert leaders were associated with lower profits.  Introverts – quiet, listening leaders – were able to draw better results from proactive team members who were more motivated and felt more valued by being listened to.

That’s an interesting finding for a world that requires workers to be ever more independent, self-starting and creative.  We seek ever more proactive people but still appear to have a cultural bias (per Cain’s book) towards extrovert leaders.


About Andrew Munro

An independent business consultant, interim manager and writer, Andrew operates through his company, Burning Pine Ltd (
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