“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”—Mahatma Gandhi
This quote is an excellent reflection of the author’s focus in the book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking,” by Susan Cain. The author discusses her view that introverts are highly undervalued, particularly in leadership positions. She holds the belief that extroverts are rated as “smarter, better-looking, more interesting, and more desirable,” and that introversion is considered a “second-class personality trait”.
Quiet is the book for introverts, focused on their more subtle, but important, powers in a world that favors extroverted traits. This post features a review, quotes, and resources to provide insight and self-help.
Her perspective originates from her own self-proclaimed status as an introvert and her experiences in the workplace. A common perception does exist that extroverts are the most effective communicators, and thus, make the best leaders. Research studies throughout time have consistently reaffirmed the belief that extroverts are more likely to emerge as leaders, and are more likely to be perceived as effective.
Cain looks to dispel that belief and make an argument for the importance of introverts as leaders. This book is a great read for introverted individuals aspiring to become leaders, and for organizations seeking knowledge on how to provide a conducive environment in which introverted leaders can be successful. This work has important implications for many fields that are heavily dependent upon good leaders, as great emphasis has traditionally been placed on the importance of extraverted characteristics for leadership success.
The book was divided into four parts. Part 1, “The Extrovert Ideal,” focuses on this concept that the author defines as “the omni-present belief that the ideal self is gregarious, alpha, and comfortable in the spotlight.” Part 2 is entitled “Your Biology, Your Self?” In this section, the author discusses the connection between temperament and personality, and studies that have examined the influences of innate, inborn temperament on personality type. Part 3, “Do All Cultures Have an Extrovert Ideal?” examines the idea that the Extrovert Ideal is an American standard that is not typical in other cultures. Part 4, “How to Love, How to Work,” discusses the idea that we shift our personality traits based on the situation that we find ourselves in.
In the Conclusion, entitled “Wonderland,” the author urges readers to be true to their self, and to put themselves in situations that play well with their personality, rather than forcing uncomfortable situations. As she eloquently puts, managers should “make the most of introverts’ strengths—these are the people who can help you think deeply, strategize, solve complex problems, and spot canaries in your coal mine.” These are definitely qualities that are valued in leaders in many fields.
This book offers new insights and will serve as a valuable source of information for management professionals. In addition, it helps to shatter the belief that extroverted individuals are superior and provides a much needed change in perception for introverts hoping to become leaders.