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How to be a Leader, Study Shows Optimal Path

Extroverts are often seen as natural leaders in organizations, but a new study suggests that extroversion alone can alienate some members of a team and points to a more balanced model of leadership.

In the study, researchers found that ‘informal’ leaders were better liked and more sought after for advice when they hit a middle “sweet spot” on levels of assertiveness and warmth (two facets of extroversion).

Team members reacted less favorably to leaders who were high on assertiveness or warmth.

Lead author of the study Jia (Jasmine) Hu said: “Overly extroverted leaders can come across as too pushy or too annoying.

“A moderate amount of assertiveness and warmth may be optimal.”

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Hu continued: “If you’re too assertive as a team member, people think you’re pushy and they don’t like that.

“And if you’re too warm and friendly, that can be overwhelming for others who feel pressured to respond in the same enthusiastic way.”

However, fellow employees can put up with more extroversion if they think you’re doing it for others.

“If you’re prosocially motivated, people see more benefits to your assertiveness and warmth. They know you’re not doing it just to promote yourself, but have a genuine interest in the whole team. That means a lot,” Hu said.

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