Introvert & Extrovert: How Both Leadership Types can Work

Extroverts are the new black in business, but don’t write introverts off just yet. There are times when the thoughtful, reflective leadership style is an effective alternative to outgoing, gregarious extroversion. Conversely, there are times when taking the bull by the horns and expressing one’s thoughts makes all the difference. Look at the best practices for mitigating the limitations akin to both managing styles.Surprisingly, according to one Harvard study, which style is best for your business depends largely on your subordinates. When staffers are eager to share new ideas, address problems or suggest new solutions, introverts will foster an innovative, creative company culture.

However, when these same employees are headed up by outgoing, assertive extroverts, leaders have a greater chance of feeling threatened. This can lead to poor reception, from a lack of enthusiasm to out-and-out rejection, with the ultimate effect being employees who don’t feel appreciated and don’t respect the boss. After taking a survey of his best traits and his goal, it was clear becoming more extroverted was the wrong move. He already had many traits associated with outgoing, assertive personalities, and his core goals – helping people versus gaining attention or making money – could be used to become more involved in the company without taking away from his natural talents. In situations where employees aren’t engaged or don’t feel comfortable being proactive, an extroverted manager can tap into their talents and invigorate a team. Also, extroverted characteristics often inspire employees – and clientele – to reach their own potentials. On the flip-side, employees may assume an introverted leader simply isn’t interested.

Introverts Excel by Staying True to Their Goals

When Thomas G. Lynch, a Value Engineer and Senior Principal at SAP, engages customers, he’s personable, knowledgeable and friendly. He’s also very effective, earning upwards of $20 million for his company last year. Up until a few years ago, however, most of his coworkers described him as “the quiet guy,” and superiors wrote him off as someone who lacked initiative.

It really wasn’t hard to see why. Like many introverts, he thought meetings through instead of contributing, wasn’t enthused to engage in on-the-spot discussions in the halls and wasn’t involved in any company social events. He did well with customers but didn’t impress anyone in the boardroom. Things came to a head in 2012 when a senior manager told him he was well-respected and smart, but needed to be more extroverted. Lynch sought the help of a career coach.

Encouraged to offer help to his superiors, he began calling to talk to his management team about new ideas for the company, offering suggestions at meetings and asking if there were any leadership tasks he could perform. Lynch also offered to help with a charitable event at the company, which turned out to help him with a promotion later on.

Extroverts Excel by Re-evaluating Boundaries

Devora Zack, author of “Managing for People Who Hate Managing,” points to one of extroverts’ biggest problems – ignoring personal boundaries. They assault people in the hallways with long and excitable conversations and repeated (sometimes pushy) attempts at friendship. As “the boss,” they often feel responsible for each employee’s progress, training and development, extending to their lives outside of work. Extroverts must work hard on setting reasonable personal boundaries, and assigning each part of their team fair tasks, focusing their own attention on ensuring the team as a whole meets their benchmarks.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

1 Comment