The New Self-Help

Why Introverts Make Better Leaders

The power of quiet leadership

Susan Cain
Published in
6 min readAug 31, 2020


This story is part of The New Self-Help: 21 Books for a Better You in the 21st Century.

Harvard Business School is not, by any measure, an ordinary place. When I visit the Cambridge, Massachusetts campus, the first thing I notice is the way students walk: They stride, full of forward momentum. When they cross each other’s paths, they don’t merely nod — they exchange animated greetings, inquiring about this one’s summer with J. P. Morgan or that one’s trek in the Himalayas. I sit down next to a couple of students who are in the middle of planning a road trip — HBS students are forever coordinating pub crawls and parties or describing an extreme-travel junket they’ve just come back from. When they ask what brings me to campus, I say that I’m conducting interviews for a book about introversion and extroversion.

“Good luck finding an introvert around here,” says one.

“This school is predicated on extroversion,” adds the other. “Your grades and social status depend on it. It’s just the norm here. Everyone around you is speaking up and being social and going out.”

That put-yourself-out-there ethos doesn’t stop at graduation. HBS alumni include an impressive collection of World Bank…