Last week, we touched on the impact that introverts and extrovert can have in leadership. (Recap: it’s not as important as you might think, but it does require mindfulness and different leadership techniques.) But whether you or your managers are introverts or extroverts, it’s fairly safe to say that your team will most likely be made up of both personality types. In this series, we’ll discuss ways to foster growth and promote better performance in the introverts and extroverts on your team. First up: how to help introverts succeed.
Recognize introversion as a neutral quality, not a negative one.
Especially in business, where so much day-to-day work involves interfacing with colleagues, clients, or others, extroversion is often valued as an asset for team members. But natural tendencies toward being an introvert or extrovert aren’t strengths or weaknesses in themselves — they’re neutral attributes, like eye color or height. Viewing introversion as a weakness (and revealing this attitude in your management style) can feel like a personal affront to an introvert’s identity.
Understand introversion from the inside out.
It’s helpful to truly seek to understand what introversion is and how introverts are often motivated. Introverts are not automatically antisocial or prone to avoiding the company of others; they just find that socializing takes a lot of energy and effort, and they prefer to recharge by being alone and away from the crowd. While introverts are often painted with a broad brush of avoiding social situations, they often have tremendous insight into social dynamics and their own strengths and weaknesses; they’re prone to keen observation and tend to practice mindfulness more often than extroverts do. The first step to help introverts succeed is to recognize that are often just as valuable as team members as extroverts.
Allow different personalities to flourish.
The best thing a manager can do to help introverts succeed is giving them freedom to find a workflow and a work style that will allow them to optimize their performance. Introverts find better focus in quiet spaces free from distractions, so an open office floor plan, for example, often doesn’t help them do good work. If they seem reluctant to spend hours in planning meetings or other collaborative situations, see if they might be more amenable to doing some of that work virtually in project management software. Another approach would be having them report back at regular intervals on their individual progress. Assigning tasks based on extrovert and introvert personalities might also be a good step: extroverts tend to be more “big-picture” focused and enjoy executing plans, while introverts often prefer the planning and details leading up to a launch.
The ability to manage different personalities is a hallmark of a strong leader. Interested in the best approaches to communicating effectively with different types of behaviors? Employee Development Systems delivers results-oriented training programs that increase productivity, effectiveness, & performance.
Photo by hans s via Flickr