“Introverted feeling types have a wealth of warmth and enthusiasm, but they may not show it until they know someone well. They wear their warm side inside, like a fur-lined coat.”
– Isabel Briggs Myers
In our world the externals including charisma and outgoing personalities get noted and praised starting right from early school.
For example, one teacher’s feedback, “Johnny is a confident, active and outgoing child.” On the other hand “Anjila is very quiet in class and keeps to herself.”
Okay – so we are who we are and here’s what we need to remember:
Both personality preferences have their strengths
As bosses, parents, teachers and community leaders, we need to be mindful that both the extroverted and introverted personality preferences bring their own strengths as much as they have their challenges.
If we are aware of this, we can optimise performance and exchange with our colleagues, direct reports, students and even the seemingly incalcitrant teenager, on some occasions!
“Well-developed introverts can deal ably with the world around them when necessary, but they do their best work inside their heads, in reflection.
Similarly well-developed extraverts can deal effectively with ideas, but they do their best work externally, in action.”
― Isabel Briggs Myers, Gifts Differing: Understanding Personality Type
Let us look at team meetings where we spend a large chunk of our working time.
Introverted personalities tend to be quieter and not readily discuss their gems in meetings. While for the more extroverted types, speaking their minds or – their thoughts – as they get formulated – is not an issue.
The extroverted personality can come across as confident because they are never short on opinions or a willingness to say whatever is present for them in the moment. This is how they think….in talking it out.
On the other hand, those who are more introverted tend to be quieter unless asked or if they feel really strongly about something.
However, when people with a preference for introversion speak, they get everybody’s attention because it is well considered and thought through.
‘Depth’ is a word that often gets used to describe a team member with introverted preferences.
Getting the best as their manager
As a manager or leader you need to be aware that to get the best out of your more introverted team members (or family members for that matter), you need to give them time to consider and process things on important agenda items so they are not “put on the spot.”
You need to be conscious that they will not be easy initiators so you will need to draw them out by asking for their views.
If you have more introverted preferences yourself then you will naturally have more resonance and empathy here.
While the typical extrovert’s claim of their more introverted team members is, “ they do not say much in meetings” the introverts view when probed is, “It is hard to get a word in edge-wise!”
Doing round-robins in a team meeting which is basically doing a round in a circle – where everyone gets to contribute their thought, feelings and ideas on the question/topic under discussion ensures that both personality types get to speak and therefore have more equal air-time.
The introverted leader
We sometimes overlook the fact that we have just as many introverted as extroverted managers and leaders.
If you are a more introverted leader then know that you may have to make more of an effort to share information, be visible, initiate and express and give praise in ways that inspire and engage and builds a high performing team.
Doing team personality profiling is a great way of understanding your individual and team profile. It provides a common language and can take away a lot of unspoken tension and judgment amongst team members.
Learning about personality and team type is not only fun and helpful for improved work relationships but with family too!
Source: For further reading, you may wish to look into books on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). The work and tool was developed by Katherine Briggs and Isabel Myers based on the work of Carl Jung.
Additional resource: Don’t miss out on your free copy of your leadership development guide.
Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net