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Be Better Leaders

2020-03-26 来源: 51Due教员组 类别: Report范文

不可否认,我们生活在一个有利于外向者的世界。从幼儿园开始,孩子们就被教导要在同龄人的团队中工作,并鼓励他们外向,这样的“团队合作”主题延伸到高等教育和工作场所。直言不讳和迷人的个性往往与组织领导能力有关。我们很难有幸看到一个内向的人作为一名高级管理人员闪耀光芒。人们可能会怀疑,内向和外向是否是人格特质的两个对等物,内向是否必然会使人们在个人和职业发展方面处于严重的不利地位?在领导能力方面,内向者有没有什么特质可以让他们比外向的对手更具优势?本文通过对四篇关于外向-内向型人格特质和领导能力的学术文献的调查和分析,以时间顺序为基础,考察了内向型人格特质和领导能力之间的可能相关性,这可以为挑战内向型领导者或其他方面的传统观念打下基础。

It is undeniable that we live in a world that favors extroverts. Since kindergarten, young kids are taught to work in a team of peers and encouraged to be outgoing, and such “teamwork” theme extends up to tertiary education and workplaces. Outspoken and charming personalities are often associated with organizational leadership. And we hardly have the privilege to observe an introverted person shines as a high-ranking executive. One might wonder if introversion and extroversion are two equal counterparts of personality traits, does introversion necessarily put people in severe disadvantage in terms of personal and professional development in the society? Are there any traits of introverts that may give them an edge over their extroverted counterparts in regards to leadership skills? By investigating and analyzing four well-established academic literatures on the topic of extrovert-introvert personality traits and leaderships in chronological orders, this paper serves as the basis to a process of examining possible correlation between introversion and leadership competencies, which may build a foundation to challenge the stereotypical perception of introverted leaders or otherwise.

The interest in the correlation between personality and organizational roles has been persistent in the field of academia for a few decades. As early as in the 1960s, Kinnard White’s (292) study on personality characteristic of educational leaders shed light on the general trend of personality traits of administrators and researchers in education. In this hypothesis-generating study, White (292) aimed at establishing the existence of unique personality traits among different occupational groups, upon which further hypothesis testing studies were to be conducted. The study investigated three occupational groups, namely educational administrators, educational researchers and the general population, among which the comparison between educational administrators and researchers is most relevant to the topic of the present paper. White (292) argued for the general trend of researchers being introverts, whereas administrators leaned more towards the extroversion scale, despite acknowledging the complexity of the relation between occupational roles and personality. The results were rather intuitive considering that administrative tasks would require its candidates to have higher degree of interest in interacting with people, while theoretically and internally oriented people, which fits with the classic characteristics of introverts, tend to excel at academic researches.

The study involved a subject pool of 120 participants, 60 researchers and 60 administrators, all of who held high-level positions and/or had distinguished achievements in their respective fields. The Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire was used as the assessment tool for testing and determining personalities (White 292). While the study was consistently rigorous in the most part, its relevancy to the present scenarios remains to be questioned. The assessment tool utilized for the test has been updated by two editions since the 1960s, which may lead to divergence in personality characteristics definition and identification. Moreover, the ancientness of the study leads people to challenge its applicability and appropriateness to any probable conclusions that might be drawn. Besides, the study was conducted with a well-defined scope, with particular interest in educational professionals. Therefore, it might be an overly generalizing assumption that any organizational administrator/leader would fit with the hypothesis of more extroverted personality. Most importantly, the rather limited subject pool, which was reasonable enough given that it was a hypothesis-generation study, was insufficient to be considered as credible proof of positive correlation between extroversion and leadership competencies. Nonetheless, White’s study was undoubtedly one of the pioneers in investigating personality and organizational roles. And it provided invaluable guidance to other studies in the following decades.

In a much closer to present study on corporate executive selection criteria, Ones and Dilchert (163) delivered their findings on the trend observed between the big five personality traits and corporate managerial levels. As their findings indicated, higher-ranking executives, when compared with lower level managers, not only scored higher on extraversion, but on the other four traits as well. One interesting standpoint that Ones and Dilchert (163) took in their study was that they examined the unique qualities of executive, both in terms of personalities and cognitive abilities, which was more commonly perceived as a relevant factor to management competencies. However, as the study revealed, cognitive capability varied among different corporation ranks without a significant trend, while the personal characteristics presented more consistent patterns. Ones and Dilchert (163) therefore argued that executive selection should not be confined to prior experiences, and that personality measures should be actively taken into considerations, which was a particularly strong stance on supporting positive correlation between extraversion and corporate leadership. Comparing to White’s study (292), the conclusion derived by Ones and Dilchert (163) was more applicable to the analysis of the present paper. Combining this study with the following article to be discussed, authored by Adam Grant et al. (2010), presents a intriguing viewpoint of the different strengths at leadership competencies that extroverts and introverts possess.

Although decades of empirical researches generally concluded that extroverts have an advantage in leadership, such hypothesis does not constantly go unchallenged. Adam Grant is one of the leading academic professionals investigating the benefits of having an introverted leader for the organization. His experiment conducted with college students completing T-shirts folding tasks in teams aimed at examining the leadership effectiveness of leaders of extrovert and introvert personalities with proactive followers (Grant, 2010). The hypothesis, which suggested that introverted leaders were more effective in taking charge of a group of proactive participants as compared to their extroverted counterparts, was derived from a prior field study observing sales achievement amongst a series of franchise stores managed by extroverted and introverted leaders. The field study presented that higher sales were associated with extroverted leadership and non-proactive employees, whereas the combination of extroverted leaders and proactive employees resulted in lower-than-average profits. The T-shirt folding experiment result supported the hypothesis, with proactive followers performed better with introverted leaders, and vice versa. Grant et al. (2010) therefore suggested that introverted leaders tended not to feel immediately threatened by outspoken employees, which in turn made the employees feel valued and motivated. Following up the study findings, the authors then put forward that the judgment on the most suitable personality of leaders needed to be made based on the composition of the organization.

As convincing as the experiment result was, it should not be neglected that both the field study and experiment were conducted with a rater limited and specific subject pool. Whether the research conclusion can be extended or directly applied to the broader context requires further inquiry. Also, as acknowledged by Grant and his colleagues, the experiment alone was far from sufficient to overturn the common perception of extroversion and leadership. However, their findings were more than adequate to call for reconsideration of the stereotypical belief of corporate leadership and personalities. The study explored the possibility of not seeing extroversion as a necessity leading to organizational leadership, although there remained barriers to overcome by introverts to progress further on the corporate ladder. Moreover, it shared invaluable insights in terms of the potential advantage of having an introverted leader, which had been formerly overlooked due to the intense attention on extroversion and leadership.

Since it has been established that extroverted leaders have the tendency to deny their followers the opportunities to speak up, it becomes a natural next step to explore the relationships of level of extraversion and workplace bullying. The next study to be analyzed investigated the relations between workplace bullying and leaders/supervisors personality traits (Mathisen, Einarsen & Mykletun 637). This particular study focused on a wide spectrum of bullying conducts, ranging from aggressive indication to physical violence. And working under the assumption of extroversion being the most effective trait for effective leadership, Mathisen et al. (637) hypothesized positive correlation between reported workplace bullying and introversion both perceived by supervisor themselves and their subordinates. The study was carried out among 207 Norwegian F&B outlets’ supervisors and employees, where the supervisor and subordinate’s working relationship were deemed adequately close so as to produce reliable outcome of personality perception.

Through multiple regression analysis, the researchers discovered that workplace bullying was significantly positively correlated with subordinate’s’ perceiving their superiors as introverted, while no significant relation between supervisor’s self-perceived introversion and workplace bullying was identified. Another interesting finding was that supervisor’s agreeableness trait was more closely associated with workplace bullying. And further detailed questions directed to the employees revealed that introverted leaders tend to be perceived as distant and reserved, which, once combined with low agreeableness, would generally lead to bullying conduct (Mathisen, Einarsen & Mykletun 637). Yet, the scope of the study did not isolated introversion as a single factor, testing the subordinate’s perception of introverted by high on agreeableness leaders. Another important limitation was that the study was confined to the restaurant sector, the industry of which by nature is often extremely stressful and exerts extreme preference on outgoing personnel. Hence, it may be an unreasonable assumption claiming that leaders of introverted personalities tend to exhibit workplace bullying behavior, considering that in a corporate, or office setting, the working environment and culture could be fundamentally different. Nonetheless, the study did produce persuasive proof of common perception of introverted leaders, for whom the path to assert effective leadership would be drastically more difficult than their extroverted counterparts.

If extraversion is the widely accepted key to positive leadership outcomes, what specific aspect of the particular personality characteristic makes it so essential to becoming a good leader? A meta-analysis carried out by Do and Minbashian (1040) attempted in resolving the mystery. A valuable input suggested by Do and Minbashian (1040) was their distinguishing leadership behavior and leadership effectiveness as two separate outcomes, the latter of which is critical to organizational advancement and success. The two foundational elements to extraversion, agency (the tendency to seek social dominance and motivated to achieve goals) and affiliation (the quality of enjoying and being receptive to other’s company), were examined and analyzed independently with leadership behavior and outcome, under the hypotheses that agency has a positive effect on leadership behavior or leadership effectiveness (Do & Minbashian 1040).

The study was built on prior research data collected through multiple studies on extraversion, agency, affiliation and leadership outcomes, with a smallest sample size of 830. The multiple regression findings suggested that agency was positively related to both leadership behavior and effectiveness, while affiliation only presented vague relation with leadership behavior and none with effectiveness. Moreover, agency’s impact on the two leadership outcomes appeared to be independent from one another, fully supporting the previous hypotheses (Do & Minbashian 1040). Despite the well-constructed hypothesis testing in theory, this study does have its own limitations, mostly due to the lack of prior studies on the subfacets of extroversion and leadership competencies. Nonetheless, its contribution in pinpointing the critical elements of extroversion to successful leadership provided valuable implication on leadership development and selection. Also, as Do and Minbashian (1040) pointed out that using personality characteristics alone would be an insufficient judgment tool in terms of leader selection, the criteria of which should include other factors, such as organizational culture.

Upon detailed research into relevant literatures, it becomes evident that previous studies themed on introversion and leadership competencies are extremely limited, especially when large amount of empirical findings points to the conclusion that extraversion is not only positively linked, but is also probably the most important out of the Big Five Personality Traits, to successful leadership. Also, most prior studies are subjected to severe limitations in terms of industries investigated and subject pool selection. Therefore, analysis on the above literatures, in many ways, has presented new challenge in establishing positive correlation between introversion and leadership. However, introverted leaders are gaining more voice power over the recent decades, with academic professionals, such as Adam Grant, supporting their capabilities in leading and contributing to an organization, overcoming their personality hindrance, and achieving more astounding results than extroverted executives. It appears that the key to effective leadership for introverts lies within the organizational culture and the personnel composition. The stereotypical belief that good leaders have to exhibit extroverted personality, although remains true in most scenarios, does need to be questioned from time to time under different organizational structures. The following step of this study aims to establish the advantages of introverted leaders under specific circumstances, building on the implication that given the right opportunity and environment, competent introverted executives may very well stand an equal chance to shine.

 

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