Skilled introvert vs charismatic extrovert, who will rise faster?

People’s skills are more sought after and help one climb to senior positions faster.


Each individual is important for an organisation— from the base line to the top management— but senior leaders hold the reins of the company in their hands because of their strategic position and are responsible for the growth and development of the organisation. While there are many contestants fighting for that coveted space, only a handful actually reach there. This is because the tapering top of the pyramid can accommodate very few.

How does a boss decide whom to promote? Some are of the opinion that those who reach the top level—director, president, VP — are people’s people. On the other hand, there are employees who work quietly, without interacting much with others in the organisation.

We spoke to three senior HR heads and gave them the following scenario:

You are promoting, and there are two candidates that you have shortlisted for a top position in the corporate pyramid.

These are the scores of the candidates in question:

Attributes (1-10) 10 is highest Score of candidate 1 Score of candidate 2  
Productivity- Individual output 10 8
People’s person 8 10


Nihar Ghosh, president HR Emami Group 

Nihar Ghosh

I will promote the second candidate because he scores higher in people’s skill. The reason for that is, as a senior leader you play very little of a functional role at the individual level. Your prime responsibility is to nurture people. Your responsibility is to create a framework and concept which they (team) can translate into reality.

If candidate-2 was 5 or below on the function competency, then my answer would have been different. Here, the matter of concern is that you have not acquired mastery in the field in which you are working, consequently your ability to calibrate or differentiate between the quality of output your team is producing is insufficient.

With a score of 8, he has a fairly high degree of conceptual ability to create frameworks, visions and interventions and get his team to execute his plans. In 90 per cent of leadership jobs, 25 per cent of the work is done at the individual level—by the leaders themselves, whereas 75 per cent of the task is contributed by the team.

Rajeshwar Tripathi, chief people office Mahindra and Mahindra

Rajeshwar Tripathi

Tripathi also picked candidate-2 for promotion.
As a manager of another’s effort, his role is to channelise the team’s talents for business output. My preference would always be someone who is 10 on 10 in people’s skills and 8 in terms of domain expertise.

At the senior level, we will promote people’s persons. Senior leaders not only manage their teams, but also stakeholders and networks. Seldom do they have to deliver within their vertical.

In senior leadership roles, we look for people who are multipliers. They should be able to influence the workforce in an organisation and build strong talent pipelines.

N Balachandar, group director-HR Coffee Day Group

Balachandar N.

I will pick up candidate-2 for promoting.

Personal productivity/output is important for people at the base of the pyramid, here promotions are determined by individual contribution. For a senior leadership role, my decision would sway towards the candidate-2 but there are certain other attributes that he needs to have along with people’s skills.

Senior leadership roles require visionary and futuristic people who can lead a change. They need to possess excellent communication skills to be able to make their plans see the light of the day. They have to connect, inspire and influence a heterogeneous group- people’s skills is an attribute that will help them to achieve that, personal productivity is not important.

Senior leaders work with other leaders, they have to collaborate  and network with the best minds. They take critical decisions, after merging and amalgamating ideas with others like them. A very individualistic person will struggle to align and collaborate ideas with people at the top.

Senior leaders continuously work with the board and stakeholders of an organisation. You have to be a people’s person to be able to reach out and carry your board, shareholders and brand along with you in all internal and external communication and tasks.

We establish the verdict that an individual who is charming, immensely social, humorous, and a great communicator, in short, an extrovert, will get promoted faster.

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