IS EXTROVERSION THE BEST LEADERSHIP QUALITY?
When I was in Year Five, I remember on Wednesdays and Thursdays, after morning tea (I felt by that stage we had moved past little lunch) we used to have, what our teacher called endurance, for fifteen minutes before we went back into class. I remember this teacher didn’t get us to walk back from the oval in two lines, but let us stroll up, and what I’m about to describe was as irresponsible as it was inhumane, he nominated four people and said that they had his permission to give stragglers a soft kick to hurry them up. I remember, on some days, some students would ask if they could kick the stragglers. By rights, and in a responsible manner, yes, students should be given some leeway not to have to walk back in two lines, but the teacher should be the one to walk behind and ensure that students behaved. And let us not forget that some students delighted in walking up behind their fellow students and standing on the heels of their shoes, trying to make them trip over or slow them down. And it should be remembered that we were human beings, not cattle being herded into yards!
What this experiment taught me was, some students sought to have power over others.
I remember, when I was in year Eight, an obnoxious kid who used to kick me in the crooks of my knees when we were walking between classes and one day, he was hitting me around the legs with a piece of rubber hose.
There is no doubt that leadership requires a degree of peopling, but that is not the only leadership quality. I wasn’t a people person at school, and I’m still not. Although I wasn’t nominated to be a prefect at school (I still think some of that can be who you know or what connection your parents have to the school, rather than anything else) I remember teachers saying I had leadership qualities.
That is not to say that a leader should be distant from the people they lead, but there are qualities that an introvert can bring to a leadership role that an extrovert cannot. Part of being a leader is also acknowledging that you are not an expert in a field and accepting the guidance from those who would know.
I remember, when I was sixteen, my mother being angry with my paternal grandmother because my father had a health issue and my grandmother had spoken to my uncle, her son-in-law, who was a fence builder, who said that he’d need an operation. My mother was furious and vented it with me, and my response was, I’m not putting my uncle down, but he’s a fence builder. Whilst trying to be diplomatic, my mother lost patience with me and snapped, “But how would the bloody fence builder know what you needed?” Well, yes. Especially considering that he had been a fitter and turner prior to that. So, I thought, just data dump what my uncle said and rely upon someone who would actually know.
A desirable leadership quality, in my book, also, is to listen to the experts and not those who tell you what you want to hear.
An introvert for a leader can be someone who is more contemplative, and one who takes the time to consider the pros and cons of a situation before deciding upon a game plan, rather than acting in an impulsive manner.