I just read a great article in The Economist about the great value of introverts in a company and how they are often overlooked for promotion. The article went on to say that some of the “best practices” of today’s businesses are actually detrimental to introverts: the large, open work areas give little or no chance for peace and quiet or for the recharging, quiet time that introverts need.

As an introvert myself, I fully understand what the author is espousing. I once read the best description of the difference between an Introvert and an Extrovert. If both were to go to a networking event they can perform equally well, however, at the end of the event the Introvert is exhausted having used all of their energy interacting with people. The Extrovert is pumped up and excited because they have fed off the energy in the room.

Another example is individual behavior in meetings. Large meetings where the loudest voices prevail tends to marginalize the introvert. Clever companies are beginning to design meetings tofocus on content and not showmanship.

The bottom line is: it can be a great waste of talent if a leader overlooks someone just because of their external persona. On the other hand, an introvert can learn behaviors that call attention to their skills and capabilities in order to minimize being overlooked. In his book “Good to Great”, Jim Collins suggests that the chief executives who stay longest at the top of their industries tend to be quiet and self-effacing types. They are people who put their companies above their egos and frequently blend into the background.

Northern Star Bottom Line: Don’t let the quiet ones fool you!