Can an introvert be a strong president?

In a wonderful article in the New York Times, Susan Cain asks the question: “Must leaders be gregarious?” Read it here. I’ve written on the topic as well giving some reasons why I think introverts make great pastors.

Americans often assume that excellent leaders come in only one shape: the hand-shaking, back-slapping, everyone’s your best friend, All-American extrovert. Cain offers us Bill Clinton as an example. Both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney stand in sharp relief. Does that mean they are not effective leaders?


Far from it notes Cain:

“Many of this nation’s finest leaders have been extroverts — but plenty have not. Jim Collins, in his study of the best-performing companies of the late 20th century, found that they were all led by chief executives known primarily for their fierce will and dedication — and were often described with words like “reserved” and “understated”.”

Apparently no less a figure than Peter Drucker has reached the same conclusion as well:

“The one and only personality trait the effective ones I have encountered did have in common was something they did not have: they had little or no ‘charisma’ and little use either for the term or what it signifies.”

In the end it seems that the qualities of vision, determination, focus, and integrity are more central to effective leadership than the elusive “charisma.”

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