Continuing the Quiet Revolution: Developing Introverted Leaders in Academic Psychiatry

  • Lindsay G. LebinEmail author
  • Megan Riddle
  • Stephanie Chang
  • Thomas Soeprono
In Depth Article: Commentary

Leaders are generally perceived to be charismatic extroverts, able to walk into a room and capture a crowd’s attention [1]. Personable and outgoing, these individuals appear in many ways the antithesis of the quiet introvert. Approximately one-third to one-half of the population exhibits a preference for introversion, yet introverts are underrepresented in leadership roles [2]. Introverts also contend with strong cultural bias against their promotion to leadership positions. A 2006 survey revealed that 65% of senior corporate executives viewed introversion as a barrier to leadership, and only 6% believed that introverts make more effective leaders [3].

This bias does not just exist in corporate America. Medical education is increasingly incorporating teaching strategies that require group work and “thinking aloud” models of training, which may disadvantage introverted learners who prefer solitary learning and deliberate reflection [4]. Introverted students tend to have overall lower...


Compliance with Ethical Standards


On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest to disclose.


  1. 1.
    Cain S. Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking. New York: Broadway Paperbacks; 2013.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Hammer AL, Martin CR. Estimated frequencies of the types in the United States population, training handout, center for applications of psychological type, 3rd Ed. 2003.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Jones D. Not all successful CEOs are extroverts. USA Today. 2006, June 7. Retrieved from Accessed 25 Nov 2018.
  4. 4.
    Davidson B, Gillies RA, Pelleteier AL. Introversion and medical student education: challenges for both students and educators. Teach Learn Med. 2015;27(1):99–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Tyssen R, Dolatowski FC, Rovik JO, et al. Personality traits and types predict medical school stress: a six-year longitudinal and nationwide study. Med Educ. 2007;41(8):781–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Grant AM, Gino F, Hoffman D. Reversing the extraverted leadership advantage: the role of employee proactivity. Acad Manag J. 2011;54(3):528–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Collins J. Level 5 leadership. In: The Jossey-Bass reader on educational leadership. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass; 2007. p. 27–50.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Dudley NM, Orvis KA, Lebiecki JE, Cortina JM. A meta-analytic investigation of conscientiousness in the prediction of job performance: examining the intercorrelations and the incremental validity of narrow traits. J Appl Psychol. 2006;91:40–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Jung CG. Psychological types. London: Paul, Trench, Trubner; 1923.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Kahnweiler JB. The introverted leader: building on your quiet strength. Oakland, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.; 2009.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Craciun A. Introversion and management- between classical barriers and opportunity of the upgraded perception. Rom J Cogn Behav Ther Hypn. 2015;2(1):1–9.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Kuofie M, Stephen-Craig D, Dool R. An overview perception of introverted leaders. Int J Glob Bus. 2015;8(1):93–103.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Aron E. Sensory-processing sensitivity and its relation to introversion and emotionality. J Pers Soc Psychol. 1997;73(2):345–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Jagiellowicz J, Xu X, Aron A, Aron E, et al. The trait of sensory processing sensitivity and neural responses to changes in visual scenes. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2010;6:38–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Mullen B, Johnson C, Salas E. Productivity loss in brainstorming groups: a meta-analytic integration. Basic Appl Soc Psychol. 1991;12:3–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Mongeau PA, Morr MC. Reconsidering brainstorming. Group Facil. 1999;1(1):14–21.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Smillie LD, Cooper AJ, Pickering AD. Individual differences in reward-prediction-error: extraversion and feedback-related negativity. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2011;6:646–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Johnson DL, Wiebe JS, Gold SM, Andreasen NC, Hichwa RD, Watkins GL, et al. Cerebral blood flow and personality: a positron emission tomography study. Am J Psychiatr. 1999;156(2):252–7.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Cooper C, Taylor R. Personality and performance on a frustrating cognitive task. Percept Mot Skills. 1999;88(3):1384.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Turban DB, Moake RT, Wu SH, Cheung YH. Linking extroversion and proactive personality to career success: the role of mentoring received and knowledge. J Career Dev. 2017;44(1):20–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Efstathio JA, Drumm MR, Paly JP, Lawton DM, et al. Long-term impact of a faculty mentoring program in academic medicine. PLoS One. 2018;13(11):e0207634. Scholar
  22. 22.
    Wilson EV. Student characteristics and computer-mediated communication. Comput Educ. 2000;34:67–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Goby VP. Personality and online/offline choice: MBTI profiles and favored communication modes in a Singapore study. CyberPsychol Behav. 2006;9(1):5–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Ayyala MS, Skarupski K, Bodurtha JN, Gonzalez-Fernandez M, et al. Mentorship is not enough: exploring sponsorship and its role in career advancement in academic medicine. Acad Med. 2019;94(1):94–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Academic Psychiatry 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of WashingtonSeattleUSA

Personalised recommendations