Why Do Introverts Make Great Leaders?

I recently joined a local Toastmasters club. It is one of the best decisions I’ve made. When you realize you need to work on something. There is no other way to tackle it, than, to act on it. For the longest time, I have realized the need to improve my communication skills. The need to put myself in an uncomfortable situation, to help me grow. Toastmasters club is the perfect platform to do just that! So far, I have given four prepared speeches at my club, this is the forth one – that was a part of the Visionary Communication pathway>Level 2. [Read my 2nd speech on data privacy]

Conventional wisdom has us believe that extroverts make the best leaders. These leaders need to be authoritative, loud, abrasive, stern. Naturally, being an introvert, I never thought I could be a leader.

Then one day a study led by the famous organizational psychologist Adam Grant concluded that: in certain situations introverts make even better leaders than extroverts.

Now, being an introvert I had to find out why that is so. Why in certain situations, introverts make better leaders? 

Here’s what the study had to say: In a dynamic, unpredictable environment, introverts are often more effective leaders. Especially in cases, when workers are proactive, offering ideas to improve processes. Such behaviour can make extroverted leaders feel threatened. As opposed to introverted leaders; who tend to listen more carefully and are receptive to new ideas and suggestions.

Therefore, according to the study, if you have a team that’s supposed to do the same job over and over with no change whatsoever, in those cases, extroverts make the best leaders. If you have a growing team, trying to adapt to new changes, trying to improve processes then, introverts make the best leaders.

To test this idea, the researchers conducted a field study in 130 franchises of a U.S. pizza delivery company. And collected data on each store’s profitability. The results showed that in stores where employees weren’t very proactive, extroverted leadership was associated with 16% higher profits than average—but in franchises where workers offered ideas, extroverted leadership was associated with 14% lower profits.

So, now that we have this data, it’s worth reexamining our prejudices. We all know there is a cultural bias against introverts. In one of the surveys, senior corporate executives viewed introversion as a barrier to leadership. And it’s no surprise that those who are dominant and outgoing are favored more in hiring and promotion decisions.

Now with that let me pivot to the original structure of this speech itself. 

When I was looking at the details of this level 2 speech, I was utterly confused. It talked about different kinds of leadership I had to give a speech on. There are all kinds of leadership styles that toastmasters has laid out: authoritative, democratic, innovative, pacesetting….and few more. I didn’t think I fit into any one of these boxes. 

Maybe each framework helps us figure out what our own style is. But before we can even get into different styles, before we can decide what path to choose as a leader, there’s something else we need to understand…..and that is ourselves. Then, It all comes down to understanding our own ego.

Now coming back to the same famous psychologist Adam Grant, who started this research on why introverts make better leaders, he also has the following rules on leadership in general and would like to end this speech with these rules.

The 1st rule of leadership is; as a leader you always put mission above your ego.

The 2nd rule of leadership is, if you don’t care about your people, they won’t care about your mission.

3rd rule of leadership : if someone has to tell you the 1st two rules then, you’re not ready to lead.

Data Privacy

I recently joined a local Toastmasters club. It is one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. When you realize you need to work on something. There is no other way to tackle it, than, to act on it. For the longest time, I have realized the need to improve my communication skills. The need to put myself in an uncomfortable situation, to help me grow. Toastmasters club is the perfect platform to do just that! So far, I have given two prepared speeches at my club, this is the second one – that was a part of the Visionary Communication pathway.

What does data privacy entail?

To simply put, data privacy revolves around how companies legally collect, store, and possibly distribute data to third parties.

In today’s world, we heavily rely on electronic gazettes such as cellphones, tablets, computers. To fully utilize these devices, in some instances, we must allow these tools to collect our data. For instance, let’s say you’re trying to drive to Durham from Charlotte. In order to get the correct direction, you must enable your current location to be detected. So, your device can give you real-time direction (if you were using your cell phone app). You don’t have to do that, you can also print the direction ahead of time, but what if you end up taking the wrong exit? Then, again, you have to re-enter the information. If you allow the device to detect your location, it will automatically recalculate and re-calibrate the right direction for you.

Similarly, if you are trying to book an air flight, you may have to enter some personal information, in order to validate that you are indeed you. Therefore, in many cases, we willingly share our personal information for the purpose of identity verification or for convenience.

Hence, in today’s age, data is one of the most important assets to any organization. Companies such as, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, and others continuously collect your data to primarily improve their designs, user interface, and user experience. But the bigger question however is; what else are they doing with your data? Especially, if they are selling your data to 3rd parties – there clearly needs to be more transparency around that transaction.

As more companies use or share your data, more questions are going to arise. Are you comfortable with tech giants using your data? Are you comfortable with these companies selling your data and making a profit off of your data?

Hence there are various arguments around this idea of data privacy. Some people are completely okay with it, some are not. Some are even saying, if companies are making money selling my data, maybe I deserve a certain percentage of that profit too. That sounds like a completely valid argument.

As of now, there is no comprehensive federal law that protects all Americans from data privacy. There are state laws, but not stringent enough to hold all companies accountable. However, there are legislative proposals being forwarded with stricter parameters to protect consumer information. But nothing has been finalized yet. Still having said that, there are two states in America that are already ahead of the game: California and Virginia.
In Virginia’s case, their Consumer Data Protection Act (CDPA) will go into effect in January of 2023. There are many requirements around which companies must comply with this law and how it will directly affect the consumers. But to give you a gist, what it means is: if you are a resident of one of these two states: you can ask the companies what kind of personal information they have of you, you can even ask them to delete your personal information off of their database or even ask them to not sell your personal information.

As more and more companies use or misuse your data or more users become aware of data privacy – it’s also opening a door to new kinds of technologies. We all use the Google search engine tool on a day-to-day basis – it’s the most widely used search engine in the world. But if you’re tired of Google constantly stalking you, you can use alternative search engines that are gradually growing in popularity such as duckduckgo.
If you are tired of your email services, constantly sending you ads – now you can sign up for paid email services such as hey.com – they don’t just boast in not-stalking-you, hey.com also blocks email from reaching you that has spy pixels.

So that’s where America stands today in terms of data privacy. Five or ten years down the line. I definitely see America adopting more stringent rules in place to protect consumers and their private information, possibly following the footsteps of European nations. Allowing users/consumers more control over their data.