The perfect leader is outspoken, bold, voices opinions, and is a people person right? Not necessarily. Whether we realize it or not, we often associate many extroverted traits with strong business leaders and assume that those who are introverted will not be as successful. This is not always true. There are several characteristics that introverts possess that businesses could benefit from that are probably being overlooked.
Extroversion is highly rewarded in many business environments, and introverts often attempt to act more extroverted than they naturally are in order to receive recognition. Yet, studies show that up to half of business professionals are introverts. That is a huge amount of people that may be overlooked for management and leadership roles unless introverted characteristics begin to be appreciated. Managers should attempt to embrace both introverts and extroverts and cater to their personalities in order to make their whole team more productive. Unfortunately this is not always an easy task, but utilizing and appreciating introverted characteristics is the first step.
One introvert characteristic that is largely overlooked, but highly valuable, is their ability to listen. Introverts are able to sit back and take in all of the information that is being presented and process it carefully (internally usually). This is an important skill in business, particularly when dealing with clients and their abundant and abstract requests. Introverts also tend to absorb a large amount of information before diving into a task. They prefer to create a well researched plan – not a bad trait when large budgets and risks are involved. They also work very well without supervision, and can be trusted to get their work done. All of these introvert traits are useful in business. As a manager it is your job to be able to highlight these strengths and use them to your advantage.
As businesses operate in a continuously wider variety of cultures, awareness of introverted and extroverted tendencies is increasingly important. The United States corporate culture heavily favors extroverted traits, while other countries are much more introverted. Some cultures are far more soft spoken and reserved and favor these introverted traits. While aggression may be viewed as strong in some cultures, it can be offensive to others. Global workers need to know the type of culture they are dealing with before entering any meetings or negotiations and take note of how to relate to each person to produce the best results.
How has your personality (whether introverted or extroverted) affected your career? Leave your comments below!