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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.

    Reference

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    Angelina Phebus

    Writer, Yoga Instructor (RYT 200)

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    Last Updated on October 16, 2019

    Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

    Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

    Do you like making mistakes?

    I certainly don’t.

    Making mistakes is inevitable. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could be at ease with them?

    Perhaps there is a way to think of them differently and see their benefits.

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    Why Mistakes Feel Dangerous

    Mistakes often feel dangerous. Throughout human history, our errors have often been treated as dangerous for a variety of reasons:

    • Our vulnerability. We have limited and fragile support systems. When those systems fail, people often lose their lives.
    • Real dangers. Nature can be dangerous, and making mistakes can put us at the mercy of nature and its animal residents seeking a meal.
    • Ignorance. Many cultures scapegoats someone whenever there is a failure of some kind. Scapegoating can be serious and deadly.
    • Order. Many societies punish those who do not conform to the prevailing orthodoxy and treat difference and non-conformity as a mistake. Even our brains flash an error message whenever we go against prevailing social norms.

    We have a history of handling mistakes and failure in an unpleasant way. Since each of us carries our human history with us, it can be a challenge to overcome the fear of making mistakes.

    If we can embrace the reality of mistakes, we can free ourselves to be more creative in our lives and dig up some interesting insights.

    Why We Can’t Avoid Making Mistakes

    Many people operate under the notion that making mistakes is an aberration, a mistake if you will. You can call it perfectionism but it is a more substantial problem. It is really a demand for order and continuity.

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    When we think we can eliminate mistakes, we are often working from a perspective that sees the world as a fixed place. The world, however, is not so obliging. Like it or not, the world, and everything in it, is constantly changing.

    Change is more constant and pervasive than we can see with our own eyes which is why we often miss it. Our bodies are constantly changing. The natural conditions of the earth change constantly as well. Everything, including economic and cultural systems have life cycles. Everything is in a constant state of flux.

    We cannot see all of the changes going on around us since rates of change vary. Unfortunately, when we try to create a feeling of certainty and solidity in our lives or operate from the illusion of stability and order, we are fighting reality and our natural evolution which is built on adapting to change.

    It is better to continually bend into this reality rather than fight every change we experience. Fighting it can cause us to make more mistakes. Finding the benefits in change can be useful and help us minimize unnecessary mistakes.

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    Lessons Learned from Making Mistakes

    Life has so many uncertainties and variables that mistakes are inevitable. Fortunately, there are many things you can learn from making mistakes.

    Here is a list of ways to harness the mistakes you make for your benefit.

    1. Point us to something we did not know.
    2. Reveal a nuance we missed.
    3. Deepen our knowledge.
    4. Tell us something about our skill levels.
    5. Help us see what matters and what does not.
    6. Inform us more about our values.
    7. Teach us more about others.
    8. Let us recognize changing circumstances.
    9. Show us when someone else has changed.
    10. Keep us connected to what works and what doesn’t work.
    11. Remind us of our humanity.
    12. Spur us to want to better work which helps us all.
    13. Promote compassion for ourselves and others.
    14. Teach us to value forgiveness.
    15. Help us to pace ourselves better.
    16. Invite us to better choices.
    17. Can teach us how to experiment.
    18. Can reveal a new insight.
    19. Can suggest new options we had not considered.
    20. Can serve as a warning.
    21. Show us hidden fault lines in our lives which can lead us to more productive arrangements.
    22. Point out structural problems in our lives.
    23. Prompt us to learn more about ourselves.
    24. Remind us how we are like others.
    25. Make us more humble.
    26. Help us rectify injustices in our lives.
    27. Show us where to create more balance in our lives.
    28. Tell us when the time to move on has occurred.
    29. Reveal where our passion is and where it is not.
    30. Expose our true feelings.
    31. Bring out problems in a relationship.
    32. Can be a red flag for our misjudgments.
    33. Point us in a more creative direction.
    34. Show us when we are not listening.
    35. Wake us up to our authentic selves.
    36. Can create distance with someone else.
    37. Slow us down when we need to.
    38. Can hasten change.
    39. Reveal our blind spots.
    40. Are the invisible made visible.

    Reframe Reality to Handle Mistakes More Easily

    The secret to handling mistakes is to:

    • Expect them as part of the process of growth and development.
    • Have an experimental mindset.
    • Think in evolutional rather than fixed terms.

    When we accept change as the natural structure of the world, our vulnerability and humanness lets us work with the ebb and flow of life.

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    When we recognize the inevitability of mistakes as part of the ongoing experiment which life is, then we can relax more. In doing so we may make fewer of them.

    It also helps to keep in mind that trial and error is an organic natural way of living. It is how we have evolved over time. It is better to be with our natural evolution than to fight it and make life harder.

    When we adopt an evolutional mindset and see ourselves as part of the ongoing human experiment, we can appreciate that all that has been built up over time which includes the many mistakes our ancestors have made over thousands of years. Each one of us today is a part of that human tradition of learning and experimenting,

    Mistakes are part of the trial and error, experimental nature of life. The more you adopt the experimental, evolutional frame, the easier it becomes to handle mistakes.

    Handling mistakes well can help you relax and enjoy all aspects of life more.

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    Featured photo credit: Sarah Kilian via unsplash.com

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