Introverts and Leadership

The Global Leadership Summit is a series of presentations on leadership in the church and business world. All the presenters and presentations are striking, but today one presentation stood out to me, Susan Cain’s quiet revolution. 

In a sentence the presentation opened up the power of introverts. Around half the population are introverts according to her sources, and then she added a few minutes later that the most successfully creative people balance between the introverted and the extroverted.

So, let’s tackle what I see as the elephant in the room. Susan claims that extroverts are neurochemically wired in such a way that they delight in the presence of people. Introverts are wired differently. The elephant in the room then is that the most successful people balance between the two. They are either extroverts that have learned to take the best part of introversion or vise versa.

What can we learn from this?

First off our culture embraces extroversion to the exclusion of introversion in a way that is patently destructive. Knowing that there are wiring differences between people disallows the possibility of a one size fits all model of education that is widely embraced. Knowing that creativity is some how linked to the ability to enter into solitude and silence is no surprise to anyone who has studied the mystic Christians or desert fathers, but it seems to be an idea that oft gets overlooked. 

Second, group work can be detrimental for a variety of reasons. One is social conformity, but there is also the desire of each person to come up with something immediately in situ that does not allow for the creative process of nearly half the population to come to fruition. Stop working in groups and start breaking up the groups to do discrete projects and then bringing them together to share. 

As a side note: my wife says this is pretty much standard practice in teaching. She even had a pneumonic that didn’t help me remember at all the process.

Lastly, Susan didn’t enter into speculation on something I would like to enter into. The worship styles at a church have a introversion/extroversion devision, and worship planning ends up having the challenge of balancing the skills and talents of people along a spectrum of introversion and extroversion. This means that in the very process of worshiping God we have a struggle and balance to maintain. 

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About Sean Smith

Husband, Father, Pastor, Swimmer, Writer, Reader, and attempted Adventurer!
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