Famous introverted leaders
The surprising reasons why introverts make exceptional leaders
Many people associate leadership with extroversion. That never-met-a-stranger, vocal, high-energy, Type-A stereotype is just one type of leader. The fact is, good leadership comes in many shapes and sizes – and personality types.
Some may think that extroverts are the natural leaders. But the unconvinced may be surprised to learn that some of today’s most successful business leaders are introverts. Consider this list: Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Mark Zuckerberg, Marissa Mayer and Elon Musk. Yep, all introverts.
Historical leaders who were introverts include Abraham Lincoln, Eleanor Roosevelt, Albert Einstein, Rosa Parks and Mahatma Gandhi. Not a shabby bunch at all.
The truth is that businesses need both types of leaders. Here’s why introverts can make great leaders.
The historical and social context of introverts
It’s interesting to evaluate leadership types in the context of recent history: Fifteen to 20 years ago the U. S. workplace generally associated leadership as character, trust and integrity, which are values more closely tied to the quiet dignity of introversion.
More recently, businesses switched to thinking of leaders as the more vocal, charismatic motivators, or the traditional extrovert. Regardless of your corporate culture, it’s vital to promote both types of leaders to harness the strengths of both personality types.
It’s important to note that other countries perceive the leadership of introverts and extroverts differently than businesses in the United States. If your company operates in other countries, your gregarious, assertive extroverted leaders may not fit well with cultures that value a quieter, more reflective style.
The listener and thinker
Two of the key traits of introversion, listening to others and quiet reflection, can make them good at leadership. After all, it takes a listener to gather customer feedback and employee observations, and a critical thinker to put together common elements that may result in a new business opportunity.
When a customer or employee is unhappy, the introvert is more likely to listen in-depth before a rush to judgment, which helps the unhappy person feel heard. Yes, sometimes quick action is necessary, but in today’s complex world, a well-thought-out response may be the better option.
Yes, your sales force may be more heavily populated with extroverts. But that doesn’t mean an introvert can’t be great at sales. An introvert who listens well and pays attention to subtle clues may be better at sales than you’d imagine. Listening thoroughly is likely to make a customer feel understood and appreciated, which is always good for sales.
Not necessarily shy
Introverts possess a variety of skills that can make them good business leaders, particularly in businesses that value innovation and entrepreneurship. We’ve already mentioned critical thinking and listening skills. Introverts also tend to excel at written communication, outside-the-box-thinking and problem solving.
Introverts aren’t necessarily shy or quiet or bad at public speaking. Those are myths. However, your introverted employees may need a bit of coaching on why breaking out of their comfort zones is good for the company and their careers.
For example, technical fields such as engineering tend to draw more introverts. When your lead engineer, Tom, turns team manager, you may have to encourage him to engage in more face-to-face coaching than comes naturally.
Introverts on the management track may also need to be reminded to actively advocate for their employees, something extroverts tend to do better. Remember that much of good management technique can be learned and must be taught to extroverts as well as introverts.
Training opportunities abound
Extroverts, brace yourselves. Today’s all-digital, all-the-time environment means that young people entering the workforce tend to communicate in a more introverted fashion. They’re accustomed to highly individualized social interaction and communicating by text, social media and email to get and share information. This change, already seen in workplaces that hire millennials, points to training and development opportunities.
Your younger managers may need extra coaching on the value of face-to-face communications, what types of messages are better delivered one-on-one, and when to use email versus a meeting to deliver news.
When considering the leadership qualities of your team, remember: extroversion versus introversion is simply a matter of how a person handles stimulation. Extroverts gain energy from interacting with others. Introverts gain energy from quiet reflection and isolation. Both personality types can be equally creative, passionate and articulate leaders.
So, don’t overlook the quiet ones in the corner. They may harbor just the leadership qualities your company needs to succeed.
Whether you hire introverts or extroverts, you need to create a strategic plan for workforce growth. Download our guide How to Develop a Top-notch Workforce That Will Accelerate Your Business today.
Famous Introverts: 27 Successful People Who Are Also Introverted
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Do you ever feel like something is wrong with you just because you don’t like joining groups or attending social gatherings?
Or have you ever felt so shy in the midst of a crowd that you just wanted to disappear?
First things first: There is nothing wrong with you. You are probably an introvert, and that is perfectly normal. It just so happens that parties and crowds do not suit your interests. You are a fan of solitude and peace.
Most introverts feel that their behavior is out of the norm. They might even think that it can get in the way of their success.
But that is a misconception. A simple Google search will tell you that there are many outrageously successful people who are natural introverts. In fact, in many cases, being an introvert is actually what made their lives prosperous.
In this post, we give you a list of famous introverts and their major accomplishments. We also explain how they were able to change the world through their decision to live and work alone.
What You Will Learn
- 1. Albert Einstein
- 2. Bill Gates
- 3. J.K. Rowling
- 4. Warren Buffett
- 5. Eleanor Roosevelt
- 6. Meryl Streep
- 7. Rosa Parks
- 8. Steven Spielberg
- 9. Abraham Lincoln
- 10. Mahatma Gandhi
- 11. Elon Musk
- 12. Audrey Hepburn
- 13. Mark Zuckerberg
- 14. Michael Jordan
- 15. Steve Wozniak
- 16. Christina Aguilera
- 17. Emma Watson
- 18. Sir Isaac Newton
- 19. Larry Page
- 20. Charles Darwin
- 21. Dr. Seuss
- 22. Frederic Chopin
- 23. Barack Obama
- 24. Laura Bush
- 25. Roy Rogers
- 26. Elton John
- 27. Lady Gaga
- Final Words
Everybody knows who Albert Einstein is—a world-renowned physicist famous for his theory of relativity, which is one of the two pillars that support modern physics (the second being quantum mechanics). He won the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on the photoelectric effect.
Many people also know that Einstein was an introvert. He has a famous quote that says, “The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulate the creative mind.” Instead of shying away from his introverted tendencies, he embraced them and made them a key to his success.
2. Bill Gates
Bill Gates is one of the world’s wealthiest people. He consistently topped the ranks of Forbes wealthiest people from 1995 to 2017, and reclaimed his title from Jeff Bezos in 2019. Gates is the founder of the Microsoft empire, which pioneered the evolution of microcomputers in the 1970s and 1980s.
Gates took full advantage of the fact that he is an introvert. The business magnate is now worth billions of dollars, and agrees that certain people should learn to make the best out of their introversion so they can be successful in life.
3. J.K. Rowling
J.K. Rowling came up with the idea for her title character during a solo trip from Manchester to London, and Harry Potter is now one of the most remarkable and well-loved fantasy series of all time.
During that trip, Rowling did not have a pen to jot down her thoughts. But she was also too shy to borrow one, so she opted to compose the story in her head. Every time she looks back on that fateful day, she remembers how being an introvert can actually help one becoming more successful in life.
4. Warren Buffett
Similar to Bill Gates, Warren Buffett is consistently ranked as one of the wealthiest people in the world. He is the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, a multinational conglomerate holding company.
Although a respected leader and famous investor, Buffett originally had a hard time connecting with people. In fact, he had to take Dale Carnegie’s seminars on “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” When asked what the key to his success is, he always refers to his solitary habits, which made him an investment expert.
5. Eleanor Roosevelt
Eleanor Roosevelt is the longest-serving first lady of the United States. She was the loving wife of Franklin Roosevelt, the 32nd president of the United States from 1933 to 1945. But she was more than that—Eleanor Roosevelt was a political figure, diplomat, and activist.
It might be shocking to know that she was also an introvert, since she gave almost 350 press conferences and an average of 150 speaking engagements each year during her term as the first lady. Eleanor Roosevelt believed that a person should know and actually be friends with herself so she can be a better friend with others.
6. Meryl Streep
Regarded as the one of the best actresses of her generation, Meryl Streep has won three Academy Awards and eight Golden Globe Awards.
It is unusual for actors and actresses to be introverts, but Meryl Streep is indeed one. For her, the introverted qualities she possesses are what keep her strong and steady.
Rosa Parks had a long-lasting impact on millions of people all around the globe when she refused to give up her seat for a white man in 1955, during the segregation era. The United States Congress named her the “first lady of civil rights” and the “mother of the freedom movement.”
In the book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain, she wrote, “They said she was ‘timid and shy’ but had ‘the courage of a lion.’” Parks was an icon of resistance against racial discrimination.
8. Steven Spielberg
One of the most popular directors in film history, Steven Spielberg is one of the pioneers of the New Hollywood era. His most popular works include Jurassic Park, Schindler’s List, and Saving Private Ryan.
Spielberg is a quiet leader, spending most of his time working behind the camera. In spite of all the success that his films have had, he is not a fan of parties and social gatherings. Most of the time, he gets tongue-tied when talking to strangers.
9. Abraham Lincoln
United States historians often say that Abraham Lincoln’s success as the 16th US president came from his dignity, integrity, quietness, and introversion. Lincoln spent most of his time reading and writing prose and verses.
Lincoln led America during the Civil War, one of the most challenging and formative eras in the history of the US.
10. Mahatma Gandhi
Mahatma Gandhi is widely regarded for his nonviolent resistance against British rule in India. He inspired civil rights and freedom movements all over the globe.
Gandhi led the movement for India’s independence through his introverted civil disobedience. As he once said, “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”
11. Elon Musk
Elon Musk is an entrepreneur, investor, and engineer. He is the CEO and chief designer of SpaceX, an aerospace manufacturer and space transportation service provider. Aside from that, he is also a co-founder of Tesla, Inc. , Neuralink, OpenAI, and PayPal.
Musk refers to himself as an “introverted engineer.” It took him a lot of time and courage to actually become comfortable connecting with and speaking in front of many people. But based on his ongoing success, Elon Musk has recently been called the next Steve Jobs.
12. Audrey Hepburn
Ranked by the American Film Institute as the third greatest female screen legend during the Golden Age of Hollywood, Audrey Hepburn was more than just the films she did and the clothes she wore. She was a humanitarian—a goodwill ambassador of UNICEF.
Hepburn was known to be introverted and highly sensitive, but she was also highly professional. Because she is well aware of her introversion, she made sure to not let it get in the way of her work.
13. Mark Zuckerberg
Everyone from this generation knows who Mark Zuckerberg is. How can you not, considering he is the founder and CEO of the world’s largest social media platform, Facebook?
According to Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO, Zuckerberg is an introvert. He does not seem to be very warm to people, especially to those who do not know him. But he actually is, and cares a lot about the people who work for him—a perfect example of a quiet and introverted leader.
14. Michael Jordan
An exceptional star on the basketball court, but an introvert in the outside world, Michael Jordan’s subdued personality may be a surprise to you.
Jordan is considered to be the greatest basketball player of all time, and became a vital instrument in popularizing the NBA around the world. He was also the face of Nike, one of the world’s largest sportswear companies, for decades. Most impressively, he was able to accomplish all of this despite being introverted.
15. Steve Wozniak
Steve Wozniak co-founded Apple, Inc., along with Steve Jobs. Apple eventually became the world’s largest information technology company in 2017, and remains so today. It also pioneered the personal computer revolution during the 1970s and 1980s.
If Steve Jobs was an extrovert, Wozniak is the opposite—he loves working alone. Their partnership was extremely compatible because their different personalities complemented each other. Wozniak believes that embracing introversion is the key to being a great leader.
16. Christina Aguilera
American pop star and television personality Christina Aguilera is considered to be one of the greatest singers of our generation. She was included on Rolling Stone’s 2008 list of 100 Greatest Singers of All Time, and Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World.
Aguilera seems to be the perfect definition of an extrovert on stage, but in real life, she identifies herself as “intense and introverted.” A closer look at her music reveals this, as the powerful lyrics of her many songs are drawn from her introverted tendencies.
17. Emma Watson
Actress Emma Watson’s most popular role was probably Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series. Some of her other famous films include The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Beauty and the Beast, and My Week with Marilyn. But more than simply an actress, Watson is also an activist, particularly of the women’s rights movement.
Watson identifies herself as a natural introvert. She does not like going to parties and clubs, and she long felt like there was something wrong with her. But upon reading “Quiet” by Susan Cain, she realized how being an introvert can actually make a difference in the world.
18. Sir Isaac Newton
Sir Isaac Newton was a lot of things—mathematician, physicist, theologian, and astronomer, among others. But he was also an introvert who liked spending most of his time alone. He valued privacy a lot, even once he had become famous for his work in science and mathematics.
19. Larry Page
Computer and Internet genius Lawrence Page is the co-founder of Google, alongside Sergey Brin. He is also the CEO of Alphabet, Inc., which is Google’s parent company. Currently, he is listed as the 9th richest person in the world by Forbes.
According to reports, many people think that Page was an odd choice for Alphabet’s CEO because he is naturally reserved and introverted. Nevertheless, it is likely that his deep thinking as an introvert is what makes him such a successful business leader.
20. Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin is best known for his theory of evolution. He proposed that all species of life are the result of natural selection, and is considered one of the most influential figures in science and human history.
According to reports, Darwin exhibited a combination of extroverted and introverted habits. But most historians would agree that he was more of an introvert, as he thoroughly enjoyed solitude and preferred working alone most of the time.
21. Dr. Seuss
Theodore Seuss Geisel is the author of several well-loved children’s books, like How the Grinch Stole Christmas! and Green Eggs and Ham. Many of his books have been adapted for Broadway, television, and film.
Surprisingly, Susan Cain described Dr. Seuss as someone who “was afraid of meeting the kids for fear that they would be disappointed at how quiet he was. ”
22. Frederic Chopin
Frédéric François Chopin was a leading musician during the Romantic era. He was a child prodigy who, according to researchers, had a talent that was “without equal in his generation.”
Despite his talent and fame, during his lifetime, Chopin only gave 30 public performances. He was not a crowd-performer, but rather preferred playing for small groups of friends.
23. Barack Obama
Obama made history when he became the first African-American to be elected as President of the United States. Although presidents are expected to be extroverts, a lot of critics agree that Obama is actually introverted.
He possesses a lot of introverted qualities, like being highly self-reflective and a deep thinker. Most importantly, he admitted in an interview with The New York Times that he is most productive when he is alone and surrounded by peace and quiet.
24. Laura Bush
Laura Bush served as the first lady of the United States during her husband’s term from 2001 till 2009. But more than just a president’s wife, Bush was an American educator who advanced children’s rights to education on a worldwide level.
In one of her speeches, Bush pointed out the main difference between her and her husband: George Bush was an extrovert, while she was an introvert. This difference is what made their relationship a great success.
25. Roy Rogers
One of the most popular stars of his time, the “King of Cowboys” Roy Rogers was also an identified introvert. Although he was a film and television star and loved show business, he said he had a hard time dealing with people around him. This was because he simply did not enjoy being surrounded by a lot of people.
26. Elton John
Sir Elton Hercules John is one of the world’s best-selling music artists, consistently topping the Billboards for decades whenever he would release new material. Truly an influential artist, John was also an advocate for the rights of the LGBT community.
Elton John is regarded to be a showy and extravagant performer, yet his friends (including Rufus Wainwright) insist that he is an introvert. He is often regarded as the “shy guy” by those who are close to him.
27. Lady Gaga
Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, more popularly known as Lady Gaga, is famous for her unconventional and provocative image. But who knew that she was actually an introvert?
Lady Gaga admits that she is shy and introverted, and feels like she does not fit in. Even in press conferences, she seems to be the total opposite of her on-stage persona. Despite this shyness, she is admired for her contributions in philanthropy, LGBT advocacy, and youth empowerment.Final Words
As you can see, being an introvert does not mean you can’t be successful. In fact, many of the world’s most successful people appreciated quiet time by themselves.
If you ever start to doubt that you are on the right path to success, take a moment to embrace your introversion and turn it into a tool that can lead you to triumph and victory. We hope that this list of successful introverts has given you a confidence and inspiration. No matter who you are—introvert or extrovert—you are bound to be successful and happy.
Finally, one proven way to improve your happiness and life satisfaction is to focus on goals that truly matter. To get started, check out this FREE printable worksheet and a step-by-step process that will help you set effective SMART goals.
Six Reasons Introverts Make Good Leaders
People often think of introverts as quiet loners who have difficulty getting along with people and rarely raise their voices. As a result, introverts seem to lack the self-confidence and social skills that naturally born leaders, innovators, and rebels typically possess. This news may surprise you, but 40% of the top management of companies consider themselves to be introverts. Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Marissa Mayer, Mark Zuckenberg, Guy Kawasaki, and Barack Obama are just some of the famous leaders and innovators who consider themselves introverts. nine0003
Their success proves that outgoing and self-confident people with many friends do not always become leaders. In fact, despite a predominantly extroverted environment, introverts are quite capable of effectively managing an organization. Here are six qualities that introverts can use to successfully manage people and develop their leadership skills.
1.The ability to first listen and then speak.
Introverts tend to avoid idle talk because it tires them out. They usually prefer to stand back and listen, rather than evaluate what they hear later (or when asked). A study led by Francesca Gino, an assistant professor at Harvard Business School, found that introverted bosses who manage a team of active people can achieve tremendous success because of their ability to patiently listen to the opinions of subordinates. nine0003
It is this quality that makes introverts very good leaders, since effective communication is necessary for successful cooperation. Introverts tend to assess the situation from all sides and carefully consider their words, and their comments and instructions are balanced and clear.
2.The ability to prove oneself during a crisis.
In his book The Power of Introverts: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Ace Up Your Hole Psychologist Laurie Helgoe states that “introverts have inner strength—the ability to generate fully formed ideas, discoveries, and solutions. [...] It may seem as if an introvert sitting quietly in a meeting, silently listening to other people's disputes and immersed in reflection, does not make any contribution. But this impression will dissipate as soon as he comes up with a solution that the more active participants have overlooked.”
Add to this the ability of introverts to listen to the opinions of colleagues and weigh different points of view, and you will realize that their voice is the voice of reason, especially in times of crisis. nine0003
3.The ability to get out of the comfort zone.
Due to their low level of social energy, introverts quickly get tired of small talk, and this makes it difficult to make useful contacts. But since it is dating that opens the way to favorable business opportunities, introverts have to get out of their comfort zone. In fact, they can use their natural cordiality to engage people in conversation and win them over.
4.Use of writing skills. nine0010
Introverts prefer to communicate in writing because it allows them to communicate their ideas better. EssayOn Time writer Cecil Murphy states, “Introverts can use social media as an effective platform to voice their discoveries and ideas and win over followers. What they find difficult to express verbally, they can explain with compelling texts and images.”
5.The need for energy replenishment. nine0010
Due to the low level of social energy, participation in active social activities and noisy events drains the strength of introverts. Having spent all their energy, they seek solitude, which helps them recover. They need to work alone from time to time to maintain a high level of productivity.
If you are an introvert, you need to find time during the working day to "hide in your hole" and recuperate. You can use this time to develop new ideas and strategies, and then surprise your co-workers with an unexpected surge of work enthusiasm. nine0003
6.Use of communication and collaboration applications.
New technologies can be especially helpful for introverts who want to spend their social energy on personal interactions with important clients and business partners while still keeping in touch with their team. Collaboration and process management services like Wrike help improve communication, transparency and accountability.
The success of executives, managers and leaders does not depend on their temperament. And how they cope with critical situations, lead their team to new goals and inspire others without betraying themselves. nine0003
About the Author:
Joan Selby is a former teacher of English as a second language and is now content marketing specialist for the UK Dissertation Service. She also maintains her own blog about social media and writing skills. Joan is a creative writing graduate, fashion shoe lover, writer by day and reader by night. You can chat with her on Twitter and Facebook.
12 famous introverts who were not prevented from achieving world fame by their isolation / Bright Side
Public figures, being constantly under the scrutiny of the press and fans, it would seem that they should enjoy it and, by default, be open and talkative. However, some of them admit that they are introverts by nature and an increased interest in them seriously weighs them down. At the same time, the ability to dive deep into their inner world allows stellar introverts to easily get used to any role.
Bright Side found the most famous introverts, whose isolation did not prevent them from becoming famous all over the world and winning the love of millions of fans. nine0003
12. Keanu Reeves
Keanu Reeves' introversion has become the subject of many memes. A few years ago, Time magazine called the actor "Hollywood's biggest introvert." A successful actor does not hide his nature behind a mask and himself admits that he has always been a loner and does not like noisy companies, preferring solitude or the company of his closest ones. So, he celebrated his 50th birthday together with his sister.
11. Johnny Depp
Most of Johnny's roles are reserved characters, which in many ways reflect the traits of the actor himself, avoiding excessive attention. Edward Scissorhands, Willy Wonka, Barnabas Collins the vampire, Sweeney Todd the hairdresser, you could go on and on. Maybe that's the secret to great role-playing - being yourself. The actor admits that he is very shy, but his profession obliges him to be in the spotlight.
10. Audrey Hepburn
© Breakfast at Tiffany's / Paramount Pictures Corporation
The star of Hollywood's golden age has said time and time again that her role as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's was the toughest of her career . “I am an introvert. Playing an extroverted girl turned out to be the most difficult thing I have ever done, ”the actress admitted. Closed nature, however, did not prevent Hepburn from being a famous philanthropist and helping those in need around the world.
9. Meryl Streep
© Eastnews, © Eastnews
It's hard to believe, but Meryl Streep, known for her images of principled and sometimes tough women, also calls herself an introvert. According to the actress, she loves loneliness, and in her work she constantly has to overcome her fear of the camera. Salma Hayek0066 . And if she brilliantly manages to overcome her fears in front of the camera, then the actress compares work for the open public with deathly torture.
7. Jessica Simpson
© Eastnews, © Eastnews
Once the singer confessed to her fans that since childhood she was very shy, but she struggles with it all her life. The stage and film roles have become a great way for Jessica to cope with the fear of communication and shyness, which the singer considers shortcomings. nine0003
6. Courteney Cox
© Eastnews, © Eastnews
The Friends star revealed in an interview that she is an introvert and prefers to hang out at home with her closest friends over social events. According to the actress, the difference in temperament at one time became one of the reasons for their separation from her husband David Arquette, who loves to communicate and spend time outside the home.
5. Zayn Malik
A few years ago, the British performer admitted in an interview that fame is not easy for him due to the mandatory attendance of social events. As a shy nature, he is tired of the obsessive attention of the public. According to Zane, it is the image of the "bad guy" that allows him to hide his insecurities and shyness.
4. Lady Gaga
© Eastnews, © Eastnews
The outrageous singer calls herself an introvert and admits that immersion in the world of music and her own creativity seems more interesting to her than Hollywood fame. nine0067 Perhaps all this theatrical make-up, feathers, spikes and wigs is the only way for her to protect her inner world from strangers.
Psychologists say that it is easier for introverts to shock the public, because, unlike extroverts, they are not very interested in what others think of them.
3. Blake Lively
© Eastnews, © Eastnews
Despite the fact that the actress became famous thanks to the Gossip Girl series, she has almost nothing in common with her heroine. nine0066 By her own admission, Blake is not a fan of noisy parties and has always been very modest and shy. Like any introvert, the actress needs a lot of time to make friends with someone, and she prefers to spend her free time doing a very domestic activity - cooking.
2. JK Rowling
© Eastnews, © Eastnews
A successful writer often repeats in her interviews that she is an introvert and only with the arrival of world fame does she manage to gradually loosen up.