Seriously. Think about it.
Extroverts are strong in verbal communication, expressive in body language, great in invading your private space, really loud and stuff like that. Stuff that is cool for face-to-face communication. Introverts tend to be more reflective, silent, chilled out and living with cats in remote places. The things that make you awesome online. (yeah, yeah, I am overly strereotyping here.)
In "Why Introverts Can Make The Best Leaders" Jennifer Kahnweiler provides us with a couple of clues why this could be.
"They let the fingers do the talk." It seems that introverted people prefer writing over talking. I think it's the asynchronous communication that enables them to reflect, make up their mind on what they really think and spent time expressing this correctly. Uhm. Hello? "Online communication" anyone?
"They embrace solitude." Introverts are not some kind of hermits that try to avoid any human contact. But. They need some time alone. Getting away from outside interruptions. It provides the energy and silence that fuels the creativity and absorption of information.
This post also mentions that "it has been reported that a full 40% of executives describe themselves as introverts."
So. There should be a lot of introverts among the Project Management community.
Do you know any?
I think you recognize them because they are getting good at reading "digital" cues. They are masters of asynchronous communication.
I think you recognize them because they see projects as shelters from external disturbances. An oasis of focus. And stuff like that.
Not all managers would pay attention to providing their team and themselves with supportive structures that shield them from stress from the organizational environment. You know. Exercises like "The Tent". An exercise in creating and maintaining your comfort zone.
But at least introverted leaders would.
Although. They might be hard to spot. Some "extroverts" are perhaps "introverts in disguise".
The first female U.S. Army general to lead troops in combat is an introvert:
"Here’s General Brown: “I’m an introvert by nature. People would say, ‘Oh, you’re not…You don’t come across as being an introvert at all.’ and I said, ‘Well, that’s because every day I put on my Wonder Woman outfit, and you have to be able to do everything and anything. And so that’s the person you portray when you’re in uniform.”"
You wouldn't know. Although. The creative mental image of assuming the role of a superhero is a dead give away. I think you can recognize introverts in how they describe their own mental processes in situations. Like being on a Big Adventure. Setting up a tent. And of course the extensive use of maps. Maps!
But, of course, to lead a team, you have to challenge your comfort zone. "Introverts must be willing to tap into their extraversion when it’s time to “rally the troops” and inspire their teams," writes Lisa Petrilli in her very informative article "The Introvert's Guide To Leadership."
Sure enough, virtual leadership will not be exclusively for introverted people. Extrovert-Introvert is one of just many, many, many dimensions of a person.
For virtual leadership, we need transformational leaders. I quoted this post by Surinder Kahai before:
“Since virtual teams are supported by technology and technology tends to filter out vital nonverbal cues, can a leader be effective in virtual contexts? (...) (Researchers) “found that the effect of transformational leadership on team performance was stronger in virtual than in face-to-face teams. (...) Transformational leaders motivate others by engaging their intrinsic interests (e.g., being associated with a particular cause) as opposed to engaging their extrinsic interests (e.g., salary or pay).”
Bas de Baar is a writer who draws about people in transition. He loves to make visual maps and travel guides for the collaborators of our brave new world.