Business Insider reported yesterday on a new research report from Truity Psychometrics. The firm examined the relationship between personality types and compensation levels. Not surprisingly, they found that extroverts tend to earn more than introverts. For example, an ESTJ (one of the Myers-Briggs personality types) earned $77,000 on average, while several of the introverted personality types earned less than $40,000. Why the major discrepancy between introverts and extroverts. Truity's research suggests that extroverts tend to have more managerial responsibility. On average, the extroverts in their study managed 4.5 others, while the introverts only managed 2.8 people on average. In the Business Insider article, Susan Cain - author of a best-selling book about introverts - argues that extroverts are chosen more often for management positions because their outgoing nature creates a perception of leadership competence.
Cain argues forcefully for the efficacy of introverted leaders. Actually, the research does not show that one type of leader is clearly stronger than the other. As always, it depends. Adam Grant, Francesca Gino, and David Hofmann published an interesting article several years ago titled, "Reversing the Extraverted Leadership Advantage: The Role of Employee Proactivity." They conducted a field study at a national pizza chain. They examined 57 locations within that company, and the scholars analyzed the link between personality and performance. They found that each unit's performance hinged on the match between the leader's personality type and the followers' personalities. Here's an excerpt from HBS Working Knowledge about the study:
A new study finds that extraverted leaders actually can be a liability for a company's performance, especially if the followers are extraverts, too. In short, new ideas can't blossom into profitable projects if everyone in the room is contributing ideas, and the leader is too busy being outgoing to listen to or act upon them. An introverted leader, on the other hand, is more likely to listen to and process the ideas of an eager team. But if an introverted leader is managing a bunch of passive followers, then a staff meeting may start to resemble a Quaker meeting: lots of contemplation, but hardly any talk. To that end, a team of passive followers benefits from an extraverted leader... Sure enough, they observed high profits in stores where the employees were relatively passive but the managers were extraverted. On the other hand, when employees were proactive, the stores led by introverted managers earned high profits. Meanwhile, profits were lower in stores where extraverted managers led proactive employees and introverted managers led passive employees.