NCET helps you explore business and technology
By Mikalee Byerman
TWO percent: That’s the number of people scientists estimate have the gene for smell-free armpits.
(You’ve never even heard of that, right? Exactly.)
But there’s a key word in that introversion statistic above: “Identify.”
In business, introverted leaders are often closeted. They don’t own their introversion, instead exhausting themselves (and likely frustrating their extroverted peers) by pretending to be something they’re not.
Because the bottom line is this: Extroverts are predominantly favored as leaders in business. According to Jonathan Rauch in an analysis in The Atlantic:
“In our extrovertist society, being outgoing is considered normal and therefore desirable, a mark of happiness, confidence, leadership.” He goes on to describe introverts as associated with words that “suggest emotional parsimony and smallness of personality.” (Not exactly how one wants to be viewed in business, right?)
But what are extroverts and introverts, really? In general:
- Extroverts tend to be energized by people. They typically think BY talking.
- Introverts tend to recharge — and thus energize — when alone. They typically think BEFORE/AFTER talking.
So what can we do to even the scales in leadership, considering introverts and extroverts occupy the workforce at a ratio of about 50:50?
Step 1: Desist with the idea that introvert = shy and extrovert = people person. There are shy extroverts, and there are introverts who excel at social interaction. The two constructs have far more to do with how a person recharges and gets inspiration — inwardly or externally focused. Consider the Latin root, “vert,” which means “view.”
Step 2: Acknowledge the positive. Extroverts are commonly seen as vibrant and personable, but introverts also have their advantages — namely, they tend to be strategic thinkers and intuitive, which also tend to be desirable qualities of leaders.
Step 3: Take time to learn about your team. Most people balk at the idea of admitting to introversion because of its long-held, negative connotation. So inquire about how employees recharge. Ask if they enjoy knowing information beforehand, or brainstorming fresh to generate ideas. You’ll gain more insight this way, and you’ll have a better idea of what your team needs for optimal performance.
Step 4: Find balance. You’d never run a business that only valued those with green eyes or who have the gene for smell-free armpits, right? So don’t run your business by eschewing the value of representation of both introverted and extroverted leaders, who bring different strengths to the table.
Want more ideas? Learn strategies for getting the best contributions from diverse personality types at NCET’s upcoming Biz Bite luncheon, “Introverts and Extroverts Unite! (Just Sometimes Separately and Alone)” on April 25.
NCET is a member-supported nonprofit organization that produces educational and networking events to help people explore business and technology. Register for the event and get more info at NCETbite.org.
Mikalee Byerman is a loud-and-proud introvert, VP of Strategy for the Estipona Group (www.estiponagroup.com) and author of the book “100 Things to Do in Reno Before You Die.” (www.amazon.com/dp/B06XRSRTLM)