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There's good reason why 40% of executives describe themselves as introverts.

From discount broker Charles Schwab to Avon chief executive Andrea Jung, "innies” possess these traits of quiet leadership:

1. They think first. Even in casual conversations, leaders learn by listening. They realize that their authority alone makes them visible, so they use their calm demeanors to make a statement amid all the noise. Consider how one thoughtful comment in a meeting can move a group forward, and how the most powerful person in a room often is the quietest.

2. They run deep. Leaders delve into ideas. Deborah Dunsire, a physician and president of a biopharmaceutical company in Massachusetts, says that besides doing surveys and holding town hall-style meetings, she schedules walk-around time. "I would just say, 'Hey, what is keeping you up nights? What are you working on? What's most exciting to you right now? Where do you see we can improve?'”

3. They exude calm. Because they are low-key, introverted leaders project reassurance and confidence in times of crisis. One executive pretends to be James Bond before major industry conferences because it makes him feel cool and confident. Another tells himself before networking events, "I can do anything for 30 minutes.”

4. They write it down. Comfort with the written word helps leaders explain the reasons for their actions and also document those actions.

5. They enjoy solitude. Introverts recharge by spending time alone. Regular timeouts fuel their creativity and decision-making. During high-pressure periods, this helps them stay reflective, not reactive, and when the pressure's off, it helps them with long-term planning.

Martin Schmidler, vice president at a national food service company, tells his people he needs time to absorb what he learns, and he is clear on how and when he'll get back to them. He consistently follows through.

— Adapted from "Why Introverts Can Make The Best Leaders,” Jennifer Kahnweiler, Forbes.com.

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