Extraverted leaders are not always effective? In contrast to popular wisdom, our work suggests that extraversion can be a liability for leaders.
John was a born leader. His colleagues described him as bold, charismatic, assertive, magnetic, outgoing, and drawn to the spotlight. He quickly rose through the ranks at a Fortune 100 company, becoming the youngest division president in company history at age 40. He turned around failing divisions, championed innovative new products, and was well on his way to running the entire company. John decided to launch his own company, and the British government gave him 100 million pounds to finance a factory. His newest product seemed destined to take the world by storm.
Although the DeLorean car was celebrated as a time machine in the Back to the Future movie series, it failed miserably as an automobile. John DeLorean’s company fell apart, and his leadership was to blame. How could the world have been so wrong, and why is John’s story all too familiar in the lore of leadership debacles? Why do so many natural leaders drive their companies into bankruptcy?