An apt conclusion that goes for college classes as well: The most vocal students don’t always make the best ones (but don’t take that as a reason to not comment in class, its just encouragement for those of us who are perhaps a little kinder and gentler.)
Considering the fact that Mitt Romney has also been criticized for being too reserved, we might as well get used to the fact that, no matter the outcome of the election, we won’t have an extrovert in the White House for at least another four years. And that gives us an opportunity to address our popular misconceptions about what leadership really involves.
Culturally, we tend to associate leadership with extroversion and attach less importance to judgment, vision and mettle. We prize leaders who are eager talkers over those who have something to say. In 2004, we praised George W. Bush because we wanted to drink a beer with him. Now we criticize President Obama because he won’t drink one with us.
The nation’s premier leadership training grounds, like Harvard Business School and West Point, are particularly good places to explore attitudes about leadership. At Harvard Business School, an institution that one graduate described to me as “the spiritual capital of extroversion,” grades are based half on class participation, and first years do most of their studying in mandatory groups called learning teams. Students are expected to be relentlessly social outside of class, too. “I go out at night like it’s my job,” one student told me.