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Personality Traits of Effective Leaders
Do introverts or extroverts make better leaders? The answer might surprise you.

What makes a good leader? Is it someone who can work up a crowd and inspire, or is it someone more observational who can take a step back to see how all the little details make up the bigger picture?

It’s not uncommon for companies to have their employees take personality tests, like the Myers-Briggs, as a fun ice breaker. But taking stock of your colleagues’ and employees’ personality traits, as well as considering your own, can influence how you work together and help you inform others about the best ways to communicate with you, too.

At 1851, we get to speak with leaders within the franchise industry and entrepreneurs on a daily basis. So we began asking ourselves, what do all these people have in common, and what does it take to be an effective leader? To help us out, Matt Kelton, COO of Showhomes, and Bob Lewis, founder and CEO of Closet & Storage Concepts, spoke with us about how they identify themselves on the introverted/extroverted scale, and how that affects their approach to business.

Lewis, a self-identified extrovert, has recently learned the value of taking time to reflect. Always one step ahead and making decisions from an instinctual place, Lewis sees where his personality serves him very well, and also where he is confronted with challenges.

“At this point in my life, I’ve learned that you need to have some reflective time to contemplate in the mix to recharge your batteries,” says Lewis. “I’ve always operated so quickly. If you don’t stop along the way and consider the impact of what you just did, you can veer pretty far off course in a short period of time. You’re wearing 15 hats a day, so I’ve had to learn how to stop and think.”

On the flip side, Lewis attributes his wealth of energy and relentlessness to his success in founding, managing and sustaining a successful company. Constantly on the road for business, that energy comes in handy when juggling countless phone calls, meeting new franchisees and speaking publicly.

Lewis surrounds himself with others who “fill the gaps” to find balance. “I’m not great at everything,” admits Lewis. “In fact, I’m downright bad at a lot of things. You should build an organization by hiring people who fill those skill sets for which you lack. I’ve spent my whole life surrounding myself with people who fill my gaps.”

Kelton, a self-identified introvert, agrees. Analytical and observant, he recognizes the importance of having a well-rounded team. At Showhomes, they’re all about the DISC personality test to ensure their team is varied.

“One of the things we looked at when we built our team, is that we really needed more extroverted people who can energize,” says Kelton. “But you also need a team balance, people who have great attention to detail and people who can connect with franchisees and go to trade shows. A lot of people hire their twin, and that’s not what you want.”

Kelton’s situation is unique in that he works from home. So while constant interaction may prove challenging for him, he has the ability to recharge and create space rather easily. Much of his job involves writing blog posts and communicating via email, allowing him to work in an environment conducive to productivity and satisfaction.

“Interacting with people at a cocktail party leaves me completely exhausted,” says Kelton. “But I have no issues speaking in public. I find it more challenging to be around five people than to speak in front of 500. Most people think that leaders are extroverted. But if you look at leaders like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, that’s not the case. I think it’s more about building respect and knowing yourself.”

“It’s just style,” Lewis adds. “There’s lots of business leaders who are extroverts and introverts, and it just comes down to style. There’s no wrong or right. If you are determined and willing to persevere, you have the potential to end up in the same place.”

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