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. One publication suggests that roughly 50-74% of people are extroverts, while 16-50% are introverts. 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. 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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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. 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.
|||^||p.l.e: Jung’s psychological types|
|||^||Psychology Today: Are extroverts happier than introverts?|
|||^||Today: Winning personality: The advantages of being an ambivert|
|||^||Forbes: So begins a quiet revolution of the 50 percent|
|||^||Association for Psychological Science: Rethinking the extroverted sales ideal: The ambivert advantage|
|||^||Emergenetics International: 5 Effective Leadership Skills for Introverts and Extroverts|
|||^||Marathon Human Resources: Introverts and Extroverts in Leadership: there is more than meets the eye!|
|||^||Industry Leaders: Introvert Leaders Vs Extrovert Leaders: Review of Leadership Styles|