Extroverts, Introverts, and Pizza

MAF-HaitiThere was a study done on the leadership of pizza franchises: When it comes to making and delivering tasty pizza pies, who is better equipped to lead a franchise, an extrovert or an introvert? The study looked closely at the successes and failures of several restaurants for an extended period of time. The answer to the “who is better” question … it depends.

I heard about this study at a conference on leadership I recently attended with a few others from MAF. Among the many topics discussed were personality types in leaders. A particular speaker was passionate about developing leaders who were introverts—an idea, he says, is often ridiculed.

Being an extrovert is touted as a virtue in today’s society. Extroverts have charisma; they can relate to people well and thus have what it takes to lead. Introverts, on the other hand are seen as meek, shy people who lack what it takes to break out of their shells and be effective leaders.

However, this understanding of extroverts and introverts is a bit flawed. Introverts are not necessarily shy and extroverts are not necessarily friendly and outgoing. It is more a matter of how your brain is wired—whether you process things externally or internally. It also has to do with where you get your energy. Do you feel fatigued after being around people or does it energize you?

There has been a fundamental shift, in recent years, in the way society thinks about extroverts and introverts. Extroverts are praised while introverts are told to open up. On a deeper level, there has been a shift from an emphasis on the character of a leader to his personality. People look less for integrity and more for passion. It is no surprise that many leaders fall from grace due to moral failure.

The speaker argued that there should be a mix of both introverts and extroverts in leadership. And I agree! Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 12 that the human body works because it is made up of different parts—rather than just being all feet or all hands:

Just as one body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body… now imagine if the foot should say “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to part of the body.”

It takes both introverts and extroverts to lead! We need a balance.

What about the study on the pizza franchises? The success of the franchises depended on the people the managers were leading. If the people being led were self-starters, the introvert led them much better than an extrovert could have. If the people were not self-starters, it was much easier for an extrovert to get them motivated and lead them than it would have been for an introverted leader.

As for me? I am what is called an “ambivert”—I can be both introverted and extroverted. I am not sure how being an ambivert would translate to running a successful pizza joint—but by God’s grace and the help of many others I have been able to use my personality type to connect with the many different types of people who serve with MAF.


  • Anna Toews says:

    How interesting! I have never heard of an “ambivert.” But as I have taken personality tests several times and have received scores on both sides, maybe that’s what I am as well! Maybe my MBA will help me lead in some capacity with my “ambivert” personality as well. Hoping to join MAF some day soon as a pilot/mechanic’s wife. Thank you for sharing your insight!

  • Tim says:

    Thanks for the post, John. It is encouraging to reflect on this.

  • Andy Johnson says:

    Glad you enjoyed the presentation. Your tie in to 1 Corinthians 12 is one I often make as well. Thanks for posting and for being part of the conference.

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