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How the introverted leaders study came about.


Dr Judy Curson, a self-declared introverted NHS leader, is the mother of three children. One weekend in 2009 she was testing her youngest on his GCSE physical education revision. In a section about the effect of psychological factors on sporting performance, she was astonished to read:

“People can be divided into two identified types:

  • Introverts – these are people who are quiet and self-centred, not high in confidence, not looking to lead

  • Extroverts – confident and outgoing people with high opinions of themselves, they tend to be leaders.”

(Bizley K., Examining Physical Education for AQA. Heinemann 2001: p64)

She was horrified that a generation of 16 year olds were being taught to discount introverts as leaders. She turned to Google but could find little written about introverted leaders. Back at work the following week, she quizzed colleagues in the South Central leadership team who agreed that the literature on the subject was remarkably sparse.

Driven to put pen to paper, Judy wrote a brief article, published in HR Director 2009 (Curson J, Green S. Introverted Leadership. HR director 2009:63:25).

She carried on with her busy leadership role until in 2010 she received an email from Cassy Taylor of the Welsh Government, who had Googled ‘introverted leadership’ and found Judy’s article. Cassy was taking part in a Leadership Programme and had only recently discovered her own introversion. Judy agreed to be interviewed by Cassy. At the end of their conversation they lightheartedly agreed that it would be good if there were a handbook for introverted leaders in the UK.

A few months later that year, in July 2010, Judy found herself talking to another introvert, Dr Peter Hockey, and telling him of her vision of exploring the strengths of introverted leaders. Following these discussions, South Central SHA Research and Development agreed to fund a research project. Judy and Cassy worked with researchers from the University of Southampton.

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