How introverted people can have a big impact on society


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It’s true that France is the new World Champion, but the true winner of the World Cup 2018 is Croatia. This team with world-famous Real Madrid-player Luca Modrić succeeded historically. For the first time in history, Croatia was in the final of a World Cup, but why?

A huge part of this success is due to Croatia’s coach Zlatko Dalić, who was not very well known in the world of soccer, even in his own country – until now. What makes this even more remarkable: Dalić is not the typical type of head coach you would expect to lead a team of internationally-known players. He doesn’t run up and down the sideline in a choleric way, nor would he try to impel his team by waving his arms around. On the other hand, he is passionate, quick-tempered, and introverted.

An introvert helped Croatia become a strong team

Dalić, who was born Bosnian, remained calm the entire time, walking around in his coaching zone, hands in his pockets. Even when his team would score, stoical Dalić would not be thrown into turmoil. There is no doubt: Dalić is an introverted person and it is very likely, that he helped his team succeed because of this trait.

Croatia always had extraordinary players, but it was Dalić, who formed a team out of them. He taught them to be morally and mentally strong, which Croatia was lacking in important moments in the past. “I cannot teach my players anything about how to play soccer,” he said during one of his interviews, “but I was able to give them confidence and to communicate the most important thing: Never give up.”

Introverted in leadership

Dalić signifies the type of human, that was underestimated in both business and society, until today. For the longest time, introverts were invisible. But now it seems like that their time has come – and not only in soccer. Several companies have realized, that the most self-confident people are not always the best workforce to have. Companies often made the mistake of hiring someone who promised everything under the sun – yet failing miserably at day-to-day work.

Nowadays, experts are sure that introverted people are shining like leaders more than ever before. Studies show, that 96 percent of leaders and managers report being extroverted. But not so fast, “Extroverts are more likely to get selected for leadership roles, which doesn’t mean they are better leaders than introverts”, Psychologist and author Adam Grant found in his research. “Introverts and extroverts are equally successful overall” and “excelled with different types of employees”, according to Grant. For example, passive employees led by extroverts had 16% higher profits, however, when employees were proactive and led by extroverts, units had 14% lower profits. According to Grant, “extroverts are enthusiastic and assertive in getting the best out of passive people, but they seized the passion and initiative out of proactive followers, leaving them discouraged and missing out on their ideas”. Whereas introverted leaders validate initiative and thrive by being good listeners to suggestions of others.

What applies to a World Cup-team also applies to companies such as Google

Soccer coaches are at the same risk as all bosses, yet they butt in too much to what their people say. Like a soccer coach who wants to determine every pass, every run and telling the players what to do in every situation. And this is how experts, even professional players get incapacitated. For an introverted coach, however, such behavior is much less common. They give the responsibility to their team, thereby strengthening the self-confidence of their players. Those who enjoy the trust of their coaches, want to give them something back – first-class performance and victories.

In modern business, more and more areas arise in which creativity and self-motivation of employees become key to economic success. In those areas, according to German author and introvert/extrovert expert Silvia Löhken, “a different type of leadership is required than in areas that value direct implementation of orders and a more hierarchical style”. For example, the chef of a restaurant would ideally be extroverted, while the CEO of a start-up or a manager at Google would preferably have introverted characteristics.

The greatness of the quiet is also evident in defeats. After the lost World Cup final, Zlatko Dalić maintained composure, although some controversial decisions of the referee may have defrauded his team of the title. When asked what he told his players after the match, he replied: “We can be proud of our performance, chins up, please. You don’t have to be disappointed with this defeat. And above all, even in defeat, we have to show dignity.”

The right mix

A company that only consists of alpha animals corrodes from the inside, it is all about diversity. For years, the diversity approach primarily focused on women and men in companies. But a healthy mix of intro- and extrovert employees is just as important. Introverted often work more detailed and careful. In addition, they usually have a lower narcissistic expression, which is why power is not as important to them. They can close and convey empathetic and objectified compromises. Some companies offer special trainings or workshops for introverts where they can practice dealing with different types of personalities. Every person and every personality type has different potentials, and these have to be respected and taken into account.

In the age of innovation-pressure, cross-company and transnational cooperation, proactive employees are needed. Self-reliance, initiative, and self-organization are in demand and are increasingly demanded in view of changing values. It has always been known in music that a successful composition does not only consist of notes. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart said: “The silence between the notes is as meaningful as the notes themselves.”

Florian Kretschmann
Florian Kretschmann is a Germany born professional with international experience in Sales, Marketing and Logistics. He has a Masters degree in International Business Management, currently working for Autodesk in Barcelona. His expertise in different fields of international companies has afforded him the opportunity to become an expert in intercultural collaboration.


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