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President's Day Special: How Many Introverts are on Mt. Rushmore?

Do introverts have what it takes to be president? Packed with insights and surprising facts - just in time for President's Day 2022!

#Introverts #President #PresidentsDay #FunFacts #BeyondIntroversion

Ever wonder if introverts make great presidents? Do extroverts make better presidents? What traits are critical to the success of the US Commander in Chief?

For this week's blog, I've compiled an apolitical list of past presidents (through #44) considering their personality type and their greatness. The list is not based on ideology or even policy, but more so on their personal traits. Their greatness is based on independent ratings*.

During today's Introvert Revolution, introverts worldwide are pushing back on the stereotypes of yesterday and embracing who they are, proving anything is possible. But the highest office in the land? Could introverts succeed in such an outgoing, demanding role, especially in the less progressive eras of the past?

As an amateur historian and ardent introvert, I have been intrigued by this subject. The project has posed many challenges in comparing the personalities of presidents during peace and wartime, from the 18th century and the world of today. I also discovered some cool presidential facts that will leave you amazed (and give you lots of material for your virtual Election Day party).

Top 5 Introverts (scored the highest on the Introvert rating**)

  1. Gerald Ford (93% Introvert; 47% Greatness*): despite assuming the presidency in very difficult times, Ford placed country over party and over his own personal ambitions. He was principled, empathetic, humble, transparent, and selfless in his actions. Ford was driven to do the right thing...and it cost him the election after two years.

  2. Harry Truman (92% Introvert; 75% Greatness*): always the underdog, Truman followed nearly 4 terms by FDR but boldly set his own agenda in the face of the end of WWII and beginning of the Cold War. Truman was an avid learner, very humble, and valued a very small but loyal group of confidants. Truman was patient yet decisive. He was resilient despite many issues of the time and political naysayers. He fired General MacArthur on principle and shaped the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe as a strategic and caring way to turn the page on WWII.

  3. Jimmy Carter (91% Introvert; 45% Greatness*): Carter was smart, passionate, and humble. His modest upbringing shaped his politics. He was determined yet quiet. His inability to motivate the nation and rectify the economy and the Iran hostage crisis opened the door for a much stronger personality - Ronald Reagan.

  4. Abraham Lincoln (90% Introvert; 95% Greatness*): in the most challenging of circumstances, unlike his many predecessors, he stood on principle to address the issues that were tearing the nation apart, namely slavery. He was actually not well-liked during his presidency. He was socially awkward and very humble. He was resilient during the long Civil War, yet remained principled. Lincoln journaled often to help vent and process issues and became a great orator through practice and determination. Lincoln was quite circumspect and valued the opinions of a diverse cabinet.

  5. Franklin Roosevelt (87% Introvert; 89% Greatness*): quite serious and self-confident. His polio affliction marked his personal struggle and drove his relations with people and wife Eleanor. He became patient and persistent. Roosevelt was very empathetic despite his exclusive upbringing. Roosevelt was a visionary through times of recovery from the Great Depression and WWII. He appeared calm and personable while optimistic and transparent.

Top 3 Extroverts (scored the lowest on the Introvert rating**)

  1. Theodore Roosevelt (10% Introvert; 81% Greatness*): Roosevelt was an "unstoppable ball of energy." He loved being president. He loved being the focus of attention, he craved adventure and relished the power. His energy and optimism lifted the nation out of the post-Civil War doldrums. He remained a kid at heart and accumulated varied accomplishments with trust-busting and progressive ideals. He was principled, passionate, and persuasive both as president, as calvary lead with the Rough Riders in Cuba, and as an explorer in the American West, Amazon, and Africa.

  2. John Adams (19% Introvert; 63% Greatness*): Adams was considered quite the socialite. He was tactless and often emotionally out of control. Yet his honesty and courage helped to progress the ideals Washington had modeled.

  3. Lyndon Johnson (20% Introvert; 69% Greatness*): LBJ was bigger than the room. He was a natural politician. He was considered cruel, hard, ruthless. LBJ was egotistical and liked to hear himself talk. He was wildly volatile but quite persuasive and manipulative. He wielded tremendous power which he generally directed to, perhaps surprisingly, help others through social reform and civil rights reform.

2 Presidents Right in the Middle (scored ~50% on the Introvert rating**)

  1. George Washington (50% Introvert; 93% Greatness*): Washington utilized his resiliency, courage, humility, and charisma to convert chaos to success, both on the battlefield and as the first president. Washington was brilliant in considering how to translate the Constitution into practice and balance his reflective nature with his ability to engage others.

  2. George W. Bush (49% Introvert; 40% Greatness*): Tries to live life to the fullest. No nonsense. Charming, yet disciplined. Tried to pair compassion with conservatism. Bush managed at a macro level w/ delegation, trust, and empowering his VP...perhaps too much.

The Fine Print

*The Greatness Score is pulled directly from the Boise State Political Science 2018 Survey of 170 political. The Siena College Research Institute's 2018 Presidential Expert Poll of 157 presidential scholars was considered as well but had little tangible differences with the Boise State study.

**The Introvert rating is my assessment of personality traits through research on each president, largely through the Washington Post's 2016 Presidential podcast hosted by Lillian Cunningham. Traits considered more common to introverts (preparation, reflection, creative, team player) and extroverts (sociable, talkative, emotional) were monitored. Each president was then subjectively assessed on a 100 point scale (0=very extroverted; 100=very introverted).

The Making of Greatness

Presidents are often a function of their time - depression, war, or in between. Some presidents have issues thrust upon them and are defined by how they respond and lead (Lincoln, FDR, George W. Bush, Hoover, Wilson) and others have no such factors (Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, LBJ, Fillmore, Harding, and many more). Many of these presidents are largely forgotten unless they have a vision of a better world and have the key traits to change the world.

Though our greatest presidents span the personality spectrum, introverts are well equipped to tackle the challenges of the office. Presidents facing global events often lean on common introverted traits of resiliency and taking counsel. Proactive visionaries benefit from the creativity and determination that are often earmarks of the introverted community.

Regardless of the events of the time, what I found was that great presidents employ three key traits - empathy, honesty, and moderation. Introvert’s reflective style often supports strength in these key areas:

  1. Empathy: They truly care. They understand and feel the pain of the people. They are political, yet they don't place party or their personal ambitions over country and the people.

  2. Honesty: This is somewhat relative. All presidents have an obligation to preserve confidentiality concerning foreign relations and strategies to manage conflict, yet there is a fine line toward corruption and manipulation that the best presidents don't cross.

  3. Moderation: This is perhaps the most significant trait. Moderation helps them tap their skills, build a vision, utilize counsel, and make decisions without abusing their power. Moderation means compromising and being flexible in a complex and changing environment.

  • politically savvy but not corrupt or manipulative

  • principled but not stubborn