What Does Being a Leader Mean?


The leader in you. Photo credits: Empowering Life Skills

Grace Kim, Photojournalist

Whether you are the captain of a sports team or a member of a local volunteer organization, being outgoing has been emphasized as a key factor on what makes up a great leader. Yet, do all great leaders have to be outgoing? In the book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, written by Susan Cain, the author compares Obama and Clinton’s social character. Obama’s approach to leading the nation was very reserved, while Clinton was more outgoing. By reading through several articles and observing leaders at the YLHS campus, I came to a conclusion that great leaders do not have to be outgoing.


The criteria of being a “great” leader for those living in the 2000s is inaccurate. Yes, being outgoing do have its pros when it comes to being a leader, but the more important personality traits that all leaders must possess are passion, courage, wisdom, and trust. There is so much more that goes into being a great leader then just being social. Instead of judging a leader based on his or her ability to talk to others, a leader should be chosen based on one’s ability to lead a nation. Examples of great leaders that were introverts include Buddha, Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Eleanor Roosevelt…etc. Coco Xiu (11), an active student at the YLHS campus, argues that “leaders doesn’t have to be always outgoing. There are other ways a person can be a leader without having to be an extrovert.”


Although introverts and extroverts each have their own beneficial leadership qualities, it is always better to have a blend of extroverted and introverted leaders running a class, club, sport, or organization. According to a study by Harvard Business Law, “introverts listen to ideas, internalize them and improve team performance.” Extroverted leaders, on the other hand, improve team performance by passing efficient communication, and are comfortable in situations where they have to cooperate with a group. As can be seen, both characteristics are important in being a leader, yet a surprising research by Grant, posted on Psychological Science, proved otherwise. In this research, scientists tracked performance of both an introvert and an extrovert salesperson. The introverts made $120 per hour and the extroverts made $155 an hour, but the winners were no other than ambiverts. According to Daniel H. Pink, ambiverts, who are a mixture of being an introvert and an extrovert, “ know when to speak up and when to shut up, when to inspect and when to respond, when to push and when to hold back”


In conclusion, leaders should not be based on their social characteristics, but rather actual “leadership” qualities including responsibility, courage, and passion. To finally, introverts and extroverts each have their own unique qualities that by working cooperatively can better benefit the organization.