There is a diverse mix of personalities in every work environment. The concepts of introversion and extroversion have been widely studied to unravel the nuances associated with different personality types. However, there is often an imbalance at the senior leadership level. Introverts are not commonly seen as company leaders due to their inherently quieter disposition. The popular opinion assumes that extroverted traits such as being outspoken and sociable are crucial for a company leader.
Leadership coach Helen Croft challenges this view daily. Helen is the Director of People, Performance, and Development at Liqueo and has spent nearly 20 years focusing on career transition and leadership development. She has a special interest in working with senior professionals to push through barriers to progression and promotion.
Helen believes that in order to enact any real change, we must challenge the extrovert ideal from the top. Organisations and their key stakeholders need to understand how to tap into the strengths of all their employees.
Traditionally, people envision company leaders as confident and sociable people who lead their organisations forward with ease. This portrayal is rapidly changing, paving the way for a new perspective on modern leadership. Every person comes with different strengths, traits, and characteristics depending on their personality type and subsequent working style. It is crucial to fully utilise the diverse capacities within your organisation and appoint leaders who complement each other well.
Helen touched on the notion that more junior employees within a company will benefit significantly from having an introverted leader who creates space for them to reflect and develop their ideas. Extroverted leaders within an organisation tend to drown out the voices of more introverted individuals. Extroverts talk to think; speaking is a part of their idea emergence and development process, and they enjoy bouncing ideas off others. Introverts, on the other hand, tend to think things through internally before voicing their thoughts.
Thus, extroverts gain energy from social interactions, whereas introverts lose energy from these interactions. As Simon Sinek describes:
“Introverts wake up in the morning with five coins. With every social interaction they spend a coin. At the end of the day, they feel depleted. Extroverts wake up in the morning with no coins. With every social interaction they gain a coin. At the end of the day, they feel rich.”
Knowing this, Helen highlighted the importance of both self-awareness and communication as an introvert. Rather than adopting unfamiliar traits, introverted individuals should focus their time on becoming more self-aware – It will enable them to communicate their strengths and working style to others. Enhanced self-awareness will also help co-workers to get the best out of you and thus optimise workplace performance.
“It is similar to when you receive the user manual for a new car,” Helen said.” You need to fully understand the ins and outs of your car to be able to optimise its performance.” Everyone comes with a user manual of their own. It all comes back to self-awareness and being able to communicate how you work best. This doesn’t come to introverts naturally, hence, why coaching would be beneficial to introverts looking to rise in the ranks of their organisation.
Introversion and extroversion are not a reflection of how shy or social you are. It is simply an indication of how you derive your energy. “Let’s be clear,” Helen spoke. “Extroverts are the ones who confuse introversion with shyness. Introverts themselves know their style of working and communicating.” Introverts are only perceived as being shy because they talk less.
Overall, a primary roadblock that introverts encounter is that other people do not perceive them as leaders. The goal for an introvert looking to rise in the ranks of their organisation is not to adopt extroverted personality traits but instead to learn how to communicate with their co-workers aptly. A strong understanding of the nuances associated with varying personality styles will allow organisations to accommodate the needs of each one of their employees, leading to greater workplace productivity.
One of the central leadership challenges in today’s workforce is finding what makes your people tick. A broad understanding of varying personality types and their associated strengths and shortcomings will allow businesses to capitalise on their internal resources. JSS Search Limited is excited to rework the perspective on modern leadership and help introverts with their career progression. We will be hosting an event on Leadership coaching, primarily for the introverted, as part of our JSS Connect initiative. We hope to spark a conversation on the mutual challenges introverts face in the workplace.
If you are interested in getting involved or hearing more about the topic, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org