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Introverted and Extroverted Leaders


Guest Post by Jennifer Kahnweiler, Ph.D.

I’m really excited about the launch of my friend Jennifer Kahnweiller’s new book, The Genius of Opposites. Jennifer is an expert on introversion and communication… and she bring her years of experience, knowledge and research together in this, her best book yet. The Genius of Opposites explores how introverts and extroverts can partner to achieve unbeatable results. She shares examples of high-profile ‘opposites’ and provides actionable strategies for making the most of differences. This week’s guest post from Jennifer gives you a sneak peek at her new book… which I thoroughly enjoyed and hope you will too.

My new book, The Genius of Opposites, discusses how to be successful in Introvert-Extrovert partnerships. In reviewing the research I came across a blog post I wrote a number of years ago. It is based on a NY Times article that describes the relationship between the CEO and COO of Facebook.

An unlikely pair that works, Extrovert Sheryl Sandberg and Introvert Mark Zuckerberg, COO and CEO of Facebook, respectively are profiled in an article called Mark Zuckerberg’s Most Valuable Friend by Miguel Helft in the NY Times. I believe that these introverted and extroverted leaders have at least four key elements found in well-oiled relationships.

1) Respect for differences. Sandberg is an extrovert. Zuckerberg is an introvert. A lot of people choose to hire people who look exactly like them,” Mr. Zuckerberg says. “Here we just value balance a lot more.”

2) Loyalty – Ms. Sandberg defends her boss against his critics. She says he is warm underneath that reserved exterior. “He is shy and introverted and he often does not seem very warm to people who don’t know him, but he is warm,” Ms. Sandberg says of Mr. Zuckerberg, her voice rising with empathy. “He really cares about the people who work here.”

3) Coaching – They support each other by offering honest and direct feedback. They are not afraid to push back on decisions and provide emotional support. “At a technology conference this summer, for instance, Mr. Zuckerberg flopped during an onstage interview. He gave rambling answers to questions about Facebook’s privacy policies, became visibly nervous and started sweating profusely. After the interview, Ms. Sandberg encouraged him not to beat himself up over it, but to focus on parts of the interview that went well so he could do better next time….”

4) Frequent and Regular Meetings – In their Monday morning and Friday afternoon face to face meetings, they address strategy, personnel, deals and each other. There is just no getting around sitting down face to face to iron out differences and make decisions.  I am relieved to see these two social media leaders modeling conversation beyond the screen.

Update: When they get past their differences, Introverted and Extroverted leaders can be tremendously helpful to each other.  They put the outcomes of their work first and don’t get bogged down in the process of communication.

What are examples from your experience of working with your opposite type?

Originally published 8/15/2014 on


Jennifer B. Kahnweiler, Ph.D., Certified Speaking Professional, is a bestselling author and global keynote speaker known as the “champion for introverts.” In addition to her latest book, The Genius of Opposites, she has written two bestselling books about introverts (Quiet Influence and The Introverted Leader), which have been translated into 14 languages.



  1. Julie – Thank you for posting this and for your great work helping people to grow in organizations. I am honored to call you one of my Genius Opposite colleagues!

    • It’s my pleasure, Jennifer. I am such a fan of your work… and I think this latest book is your best. Thanks for advancing the thinking around introverts and extroverts beyond how we’re different… to how we’re better together. Kudos to you!

      • Thanks. I am looking forward to hearing how you can use it with your clients.


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