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Why introverts make for better employees

All you shy ones, prepare for a confidence boost

By Katie O’Malley  August 16th, 2017

Have you ever found yourself overcome with silence in the middle of a meeting as the more confident, loud and assertive members of your team share opinions and ideas? When deafened by the noise from co-workers, employees may often feel insignificant, undervalued, or less likely to be seen wanting to get ahead in their career for lack of dominance in the boardroom.

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If you’re worried your silence may be having a negative effect on your career, fear not because you might be what’s known as a beta female. Last year, Nicole Williams, careers expert at Works, described the beta woman to The Telegraph as someone who “is more likely to be the one who isn’t taking accolades. Instead, she’s saying ‘look at what my colleagues did’.”

They’re the ones proving that in the working world you don’t need to be the most brash, assertive and loudest person in the room to get things done just as quickly and efficiently as alphas (the opposite of betas), just in a different way.

In fact, more often than not, beta women are actually the ones silently coming up with solutions to problems, methodically sending their ideas over to their manager via email rather than in the kitchen, and smiling to themselves when a team member voices a ‘new’ idea they had two weeks ago.

In author Rebecca Holman’s new book Beta: Quiet Girls Can Run the World, she explains that those who don’t speak up in meetings might be doing themselves a favour in their career.

Explaining her own experience of working as a ‘beta’ boss managing and ‘alpha’ team, she writes in The Times: “I was succeeding — but I worried so much that my personality didn’t fit, I barely noticed.”

Speaking with professors and career experts for her book, she finally began to learn the importance of embracing her ‘beta-ness’.

“Just because you’re not thumping your fist on the table or kicking off every time you don’t get your own way, it doesn’t mean you’re a pushover,” she writes.

“One of the most important parts of being a successful beta is knowing when you’re being taken for a ride and having the confidence to speak up and do something about it — even when that goes against every grain in your body.”


Holman’s theory echoes recent research analysing the personalities, career history, business results and behavioural patterns of 2,000 CEOs over a period of 10 years which discovered that introverts make the most successful CEOs. It also found that while extroverts may get the job in the first place, introverts will do it better.

Pamela Stone, professor of sociology at Hunter College, New York told Holman that now is the time for beta women to harness their roles in the work place while the ‘Queen Bee’ era comes to an end.


With women only really starting to enter the workplace around 60 years ago, Stone explains women no longer need to adopt the stereotypes masculine, ferocious worker in order to get ahead and receive recognition.

“Now, as we get more and more women [in senior positions], it’s still competitive as you get higher up, but it’s a little bit less sharp-elbowed. We’re starting to get research that says the more women you get in leadership positions, the more these organisations create cultures that are a little bit more family-friendly, for example.

“So you hope that we are in a different era now and women can be a bit more assertive about creating a culture that reflects women’s values — not just the alpha values,” she revealed.

If you’re worried you’re more of a cat than a lion in the workplace, try focusing on embracing your character traits and remember that your quietness has no baring on your skills, work ethic or effectiveness in the office.