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No Matter What Your Personality Is, You Have the Potential to Lead

No Matter What Your Personality Is, You Have the Potential to Lead

Have you ever been told that the path to success is designed for extroverts? Some people insist that unless you are a socialite, you’ll have a hard time making it in today’s fast-paced and communication-heavy world. Extroversion is not a prerequisite for success, and leaders like Bill Gates have proven this to us. On the flip-side, maybe you’ve been convinced that only the most introverted leaders can navigate the complicated waters of globalism. Have we taken these personality-type labels too far in our quest to find a one-size-fits-all recipe for success?

The original theory behind introverted and extroverted personality types comes from the work of Carl Jung.[1] One publication suggests that roughly 50-74% of people are extroverts, while 16-50% are introverts.[2] Today’s scholarship moves away from this dichotomy to suggest that 68% of us are ambiverts, meaning that we possess the characteristics of introverts an extroverts.[3] The numbers aren’t cut and dry, but they do demonstrate that we should view personality types along a spectrum.

    Being an introvert is great, but it has its drawbacks.

    If you’re the type of person who does best in small group and one-on-one interactions, and you prefer solitude over a night out on the town, you may be an introvert. You are energized by having time to yourself, and you’re not afraid to sit in silence and think.

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    Introverted leaders are adept at listening to multiple perspectives before they speak. They place greater value on the substance of what is being said over the manner in which it is said. They are able to view situations with objectivity, and are not easily swayed once they have drawn their conclusions. President Lincoln is a good example of this type of leader.

    Since introverts spend a lot of time considering problems from multiple angles, they are excellent at anticipating change. Warren Buffet is a great investor because he is able to forecast developments in the market. Bill Gates has been able to ensure Microsoft’s success for several decades in spite of the rapidity with which our technology changes because he can visualize multiple outcomes.

    Introverted leadership does have some downsides. Since they crave alone time, working in large groups and engaging with others can feel exhausting for introverts. Susan Cain argues that the world works against introverts in a number of ways.[4] It may be harder for employees to read introverted leaders, which could give the impression that they are aloof, unapproachable, or uninspiring. Although they can usually anticipate change, introverts have a difficult time adapting to unexpected situations.

    Extroverts know how to stand out in a crowd, but they also face pitfalls.

    Extroverts exist at the other end of the personality type spectrum. If you thrive on social interaction and find time alone unproductive, you may be an extrovert. You enjoy thinking through your ideas out loud, and you are able to fly by the seat of your pants in the face of sudden change.

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    Extroverts tend to be great public speakers, and they have no problem with networking. They want to get to know people, they aren’t afraid to reach out to new clients, and they do well in groups. When the stakes are high, an extrovert thrives under pressure.

    While extroversion comes with its advantages, there are also disadvantages to possessing this personality type. Since extroverts derive their energy from external sources, they tend to be more outspoken. This can give the appearance of impulsiveness or pushiness depending on the situation. Extroverts are also more likely to seek external validation than introverts.

    How being an ambivert is the best of both worlds.

    If you don’t fit neatly into the introvert or extrovert box, you might be an ambivert. Ambiverts possess some qualities of introverts and extroverts in varying degrees. According to a 2013 study, they tend to outperform their introverted and extroverted counterparts in sales by 24% and 32% respectively.[5]

    Ambiversion is a more balanced approach to leadership, and people who fall into this category have an easier time adapting to new situations. They can readily engage with both introverts and extroverts, and they may serve as a bridge between the two personalities in a group setting.

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    What can we learn from each other?

    Instead of focusing on how you can convert yourself to a different personality type, consider the assets that each type offers. For example, extroverted leaders are outspoken, but when they are greeted with equally engaged employees, they may take this as an affront. Extroverts can strive to listen to their employees as deeply as introverted leaders without feeling threatened.

    Introverts could take a page from the extroverts’ playbook by speaking up when something is important. While they loathe the spotlight, sometimes their contribution is too meaningful to be overshadowed by more vocal parties in the room.

    Introverts and extroverts can benefit from finding the middle ground that their ambivert counterparts occupy. By working to foster connection between different personalities on your team, you can ensure that everyone feels affirmed and has a stake in the final outcome.

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    Some of the most important competencies for leaders, such as the ability to be prepared, listen, remain flexible, and thrive in solitary and group settings, transcend these type designations.[6]

    We need diverse leadership styles.

    Businesses need diverse leadership styles in order to prevent stagnation. If we recognize the tendencies of introverts, extroverts, and ambiverts, we can find ways to maximize strengths and mitigate weaknesses that sometimes arise in the course of collaboration.

    Leadership can work to strengthen their teams by understanding the personality traits and the inherent advantages and disadvantages of those types.[7] For example, an extrovert may be an engaging presenter, but he or she may balk at committing several solitary hours to analyzing various data. By combining forces with an introvert, the extrovert could drive their point home in an exciting and carefully thought out way. On the other hand, an introverted leader who falters when plans change may still find excellence by partnering with an extrovert who is gifted in the art of improvisation.

    Leaders that lean too far toward one extreme or the other without being mindful of how their personality type affects their work will have a difficult time making an impact. The Dominance Complementarity dictates that groups that achieve the greatest outcomes are those in which power is balanced between the collaborators. Leaders who stand firmly as introverts or extroverts without allowing space for their team to contribute sacrifice either motivation or creativity.[8] The best leaders know how to motivate and engage their followership so that all people involved can be the best versions of themselves.

    You are enough.

    Regardless of whether you consider yourself to be an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, know that you are exactly as you should be. Attempting to fully conform to some other personality type is going to feel tiring and inauthentic. You can emulate aspects of other personalities, but never lose sight of yourself. You don’t need to alter the fabric of your being in order to succeed, but the best leadership knows how to deploy the strengths of all personality types on their team.

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    Angelina Phebus

    Writer, Yoga Instructor (RYT 200)

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    Last Updated on August 16, 2018

    16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

    16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

    The same old motivational secrets don’t really motivate you after you’ve read them for the tenth time, do they?

    How about a unique spin on things?

    These 16 productivity secrets of successful people will make you reevaluate your approach to your home, work, and creative lives. Learn from these highly successful people, turn these little things they do into your daily habits and you’ll get closer to success.

    1. Empty your mind.

    It sounds counterproductive, doesn’t it?

    Emptying your mind when you have so much to remember seems like you’re just begging to forget something. Instead, this gives you a clean slate so you’re not still thinking about last week’s tasks.

    Clear your mind and then start thinking only about what you need to do immediately, and then today. Tasks that need to be accomplished later in the week can wait.

    Here’s a guide to help you empty your mind and think sharper:

    How to Declutter Your Mind to Sharpen Your Brain and Fall Asleep Faster

    2. Keep certain days clear.

    Some companies are scheduling “No Meeting Wednesdays,” which means, funnily enough, that no one can hold a meeting on a Wednesday. This gives workers a full day to work on their own tasks, without getting sidetracked by other duties or pointless meetings.

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    This can work in your personal life too, for example if you need to restrict Facebook access or limit phone calls.

    3. Prioritize your work.

    Don’t think every task is created equal! Some tasks aren’t as important as others, or might take less time.

    Try to sort your tasks every day and see what can be done quickly and efficiently. Get these out of the way so you have more free time and brain power to focus on what is more important.

    Lifehack’s CEO has a unique way to prioritize works, take a look at it here:

    How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

    4. Chop up your time.

    Many successful business leaders chop their time up into fifteen-minute intervals. This means they work on tasks for a quarter of an hour at a time, or schedule meetings for only fifteen minutes. It makes each hour seem four times as long, which leads to more productivity!

    5. Have a thinking position.

    Truman Capote claimed he couldn’t think unless he was laying down. Proust did this as well, while Stravinsky would stand on his head!

    What works for others may not work for you. Try to find a spot and position that is perfect for you to brainstorm or come up with ideas.

    6. Pick three to five things you must do that day.

    To Do lists can get overwhelming very quickly. Instead of making a never-ending list of everything you can think of that needs to be done, make daily lists that include just three to five things.

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    Make sure they’re things that need to be done that day, so you don’t keep putting them off.

    7. Don’t try to do too much.

    OK, so I just told you to work every day, and now I’m telling you to not do too much? It might sound like conflicting advice, but not doing too much means not biting off more than you can chew. Don’t say yes to every work project or social engagement and find yourself in way over your head.

    8. Have a daily action plan.

    Don’t limit yourself to a to-do list! Take ten minutes every morning to map out a daily action plan. It’s a place to not only write what needs to be done that day, but also to prioritize what will bring the biggest reward, what will take the longest, and what goals will be accomplished.

    Leave room for a “brain dump,” where you can scribble down anything else that’s on your mind.

    9. Do your most dreaded project first.

    Getting your most dreaded task over with first means you’ll have the rest of the day free for anything and everything else. This also means that you won’t be constantly putting off the worst of your projects, making it even harder to start on it later.

    10. Follow the “Two-Minute Rule.”

    The “Two-Minute Rule” was made famous by David Allen. It’s simple – if a new task comes in and it can be done in two minutes or less, do it right then. Putting it off just adds to your to-do list and will make the task seem more monumental later.

    11. Have a place devoted to work.

    If you work in an office, it’s no problem to say that your cubicle desk is where you work every day.

    But if you work from home, make sure you have a certain area specifically for work. You don’t want files spread out all over the dinner table, and you don’t want to feel like you’re not working just because you’re relaxing on the couch.

    Agatha Christie never wrote at her desk, she wrote wherever she could sit down. Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up. Thomas Wolfe, at 6’6″ tall, used the top of his refrigerator as a desk. Richard Wright wrote on a park bench, rain or shine.

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    Have a space where, when you go there, you know you’re going to work. Maybe it’s a cafe downstairs, the library, or a meeting room. Whenever and wherever works for you, do your works there.

    12. Find your golden hour.

    You don’t have to stick to a “typical” 9–5 schedule!

    Novelist Anne Rice slept during the day and wrote at night to avoid distractions. Writer Jerzy Kosinski slept eight hours a day, but never all at once. He’d wake in the morning, work, sleep four hours in the afternoon, then work more that evening.

    Your golden hour is the time when you’re at your peak. You’re alert, ready to be productive, and intent on crossing things off your to-do list.

    Once you find your best time, protect it with all your might. Make sure you’re always free to do your best uninterrupted work at this time.

    13. Pretend you’re on an airplane.

    It might not be possible to lock everyone out of your office to get some peace and quiet, but you can eliminate some distractions.

    By pretending you’re on an airplane, you can act like your internet access is limited, you’re not able to get something from your bookcase, and you can’t make countless phone calls.

    Eliminating these distractions will help you focus on your most important tasks and get them done without interruption.

    14. Never stop.

    Writers Anthony Trollope and Henry James started writing their next books as soon as they finished their current work in progress.

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    Stephen King writes every day of the year, and holds himself accountable for 2,000 words a day! Mark Twain wrote every day, and then read his day’s work aloud to his family to get their feedback.

    There’s something to be said about working nonstop, and putting out continuous work instead of taking a break. It’s just a momentum that will push you go further./

    15. Be in tune with your body.

    Your mind and body will get tired of a task after ninety minutes to two hours focused on it. Keep this in mind as you assign projects to yourself throughout the day, and take breaks to ensure that you won’t get burned out.

    16. Try different methods.

    Vladimir Nabokov wrote the first drafts of his novels on index cards. This made it easy to rearrange sentences, paragraphs, and chapters by shuffling the cards around.

    It does sound easier, and more fun, than copying and pasting in Word! Once Nabokov liked the arrangement, his wife typed them into a single manuscript.

    Same for you, don’t give up and think that it’s impossible for you to be productive when one method fails. Try different methods until you find what works perfectly for you.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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