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Research Method

This toolkit has been compiled from the responses to a research project. This section outlines the method by which the responses from introverted leaders were obtained.

A list of 60 potential introverted leaders was compiled through personal networks and through canvassing on the professional networking site, LinkedIn. The list included individuals who at that time held, or had held, senior positions in public service, including individuals with high profile national roles; senior civil servants; CEOs of health care organisations such as Strategy Health Authorities and Primary Care Trusts; Directors of Social Services; head teachers and a dean; and high level managers in the defence sector. We also had participants who were senior managers working in the private sector as well as those running their own businesses and consultancy practices.

A literature review was carried out from which we drew out themes to design the questionnaire. The questionnaire was administered using SurveyMonkey, an online survey administration service. The survey was piloted before being sent to all potential participants with a brief introduction to the background to the research and a link to the online questionnaire. Participants were assured that their responses would remain confidential and that nothing published would be identifiable or attributable to individuals.

The questionnaire consisted of two sections – a demographics section and the main research section. The demographics section consisted of eight questions covering gender, age group, ethnicity, highest level of education and professional qualifications. It also asked how respondents had become aware of their introversion, in which sector their career had mainly been and what was their most challenging and/or senior role.

The research section consisted of 6 open-ended questions:

  • How has your introversion affected your leadership and/or career both positively and negatively? Please give examples. You may, for example, wish to consider any impact on: - others' perceptions of you - relationships with others (including subordinates) - your profile/standing/'visibility' - your energy - your stress level

  • What personal strategies have you developed in response to your introversion? Please describe.

  • What support, education, development or training has been particularly helpful to you as an introverted leader?

  • What support, education, development or training has been particularly unhelpful to you as an introverted leader?

  • Is there any support, education, development or training that might have been helpful to you as an introverted leader?

  • If you are willing to be contacted to follow up on any of the comments you have made, please enter your name and email address below. You will have the option of doing this via email, or on the telephone, whichever you prefer. Initial contact will be made by email.

Of the 60 potential respondents, 41 gave complete responses, two concluded that they were not introverts, seven did not respond at all, and eight only completed the demographics section.

Respondents who indicated their willingness to participate in the follow-up stage were contacted. As so many were willing to be interviewed, whether to interview or not was determined by pragmatic factors such as availability of both interviewer and interviewee. In total, twelve interviews were carried out and summaries produced. Interviews were conducted by phone, by a single interviewer to maximise consistency.

Interview discussions were based on the responses to the questionnaire, seeking to draw out the stories behind the comments, to help the toolkit come alive.

Further Resources


Baumgartner R J (2009) Organisation Culture and Leadership: Preconditions for the development of a sustainable organisation Sustainable Development 17:2:102-113

Collins J (2001) Good to Great - Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t. Harper Collins New York

Eysenck H J (1967) The Biological Basis of Personality. Springfield IL, Charles C Thomas

Gracia A (2006) A correlation study of a random stratified sample of superintendents in Michigan Dissertation Abstracts International Section A: Humanities & Social Sciences Vol 67 (3-A) 2006 p794

Grant AM Gino F Hofmann DA (2009) Reversing the Extraverted Leadership Advantage: The Role of Employee Proactivity. Academy of Management Journal IN PRESS

Greenleaf, R.K. (2003). The servant-leader within: a transformative path New York: Paulist Press.

Greenleaf, R. K. (2002). Servant leadership: A journey into the nature of legitimate power and greatness (25th anniversary ed.). New York: Paulist Press.

Hammer A L Martin C R (2003) Estimated frequencies of the Types in the United States Population. 3rd Ed (Training handout , Centre for Applications of Psychologic Type2003).

Helgoe L (2008) Introvert Power: Why your Inner Life is Your Hidden Strength. Sourcebooks Inc Illinois

Jung CG (1923) Psychological Types Harcourt Brace & Company New York

Kahnweiler J B (2009) The Introverted Leader: building on your quiet strength. Berrett-Koehler Publishers Ltd San Francisco


Kelly AC Zuroff DC Leyburn AJ et al (2008) Satisfied groups and satisfied members. Journal of Applied Social Psychology 38:7: 1805-1826 July 2008


Laney M O (2002) The Introvert Advantage-How to Thrive in an Extroverted World. Workman Publishing New York


Matan LK (1999) A profile of the effective Catholic High School administrator. Dissertation Abstracts
International Section A: Humanities & Social Sciences Vol 60 (6-A) Dec p1852


Spears, L. C. Lawrence M eds (2002) Tracing the Past, Present and Future of Servant-Leadership In Focus of Leadership 2002 John Wiley & Son New York


Spears, L. C., ed (1998). Insights on leadership: Service, stewardship, spirit, and servant-leadership. New York: Wiley


MBTI (2003) Myers Briggs Manual.


Oliver L M (2010) Serving the Once and Future King: Using the TV Series Merlin to Teach Servant-

Leadership and Leadership Ethics in Schools. Journal of Leadership Education Vol 9:Issue 2: Summer 2010


Prosser S (2007) To be a servant–leader. Paulist Press New York



We should like to thank:

  • Those introverted leaders who gave so generously of their time and insights.

  • Those extroverts who recruited their colleagues – and spouses – to the study.

  • South Central Strategic Health Authority for funding the research team and the web development.

  • The Welsh Government for allowing Cassy to give time to the project.


The study team, in alphabetical order, were:

  • Dr Melanie Ashleigh, researcher, Senior Lecturer in Organisational Behaviour & Information Systems, University of Southampton

  • Dr Chris Barrett, academic adviser, Independent NHS Health Workforce Consultant

  • Dr Judy Curson, joint project lead and interviewer, leadership portfolio, South Central Strategic Health Authority

  • Heather Parnell, project manager and research co-ordinator

  • Cassy Taylor, joint project lead and toolkit design, Head of General Qualifications (Monitoring and Regulation), Welsh Government.

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