This week's cover story (which is one of my favorites) is not about politics. At least, not directly. But in a political season when we are evaluating candidates in terms of leadership and style, it's worth using the introvert-extrovert framework to look at the campaign. The story, by Bryan Walsh, which draws on research from a new book by Susan Cain called Quiet, suggests that as a society, we have an affinity for extroversion that may not be healthy and a bias against introversion that may not be wise.
Leadership styles go in and out of fashion. The more top-down corporate-leadership style embodied by Jack Welch--think extroversion--gave way to a more horizontal, even introverted style that involves more cooperation and listening. In politics, there was a similar transition, from President George W. Bush's outgoing, resolute style to President Obama's more cerebral and inward approach.
Campaigning, by its very nature, places a premium on an extroverted persona. Candidates are meant to clap people on the back, bound onstage and then deliver a passionate stump speech. No one wants to see a shy candidate on the podium who looks as if he'd rather be in a room by himself. But campaigning is not governing, a task for which a more introverted style might have advantages. Research suggests that extroverted leaders are more likely to make quick and sometimes rash decisions, while introverted leaders tend to gather more evidence and are slower to judgment. Check out the box on page 44, where we place President Obama and the four remaining Republican candidates on the introversion-extroversion spectrum.
Richard Stengel, MANAGING EDITOR