By Nikie Walker, Ed.D, Owner of 20/20 Walker Consulting, Assistant Professor of Business at Brescia University
I am what you would call an extra extrovert. Being in the classroom, speaking at a conference or hosting a large dinner party are all events that energize me and excite me for the next event to come. Engaging with others invigorates me and making quick connections, whether it be the CEO of an organization or a mom from my child’s daycare, has never been a problematic situation. Navigating the business world and being noticed are naturally easy for an extrovert.
However, not everyone that is or can be successful in an organization has an extroverted personality. The opposite of an extrovert is an introvert. Introverted personalities do not always equate to shy or reserved behavior. Some introverts are performers, teachers, have great ambition, are dynamic leaders or public speakers. Amy Schumer and Oprah consider themselves introverts. In a society that rewards extroverts, introverts can be overlooked. It should be noted that not everyone is all or nothing when it comes it introversion-extroversion. There is a range, and we all fall somewhere on that line.
What does introversion mean then? For some that fall into this category, it may mean that you need more down-time to recover from an event or a meeting. It could mean that you prefer a quieter workspace over an active, loud, crowded work environment. That after a full day of meetings, as much as you enjoyed and benefited from them, you are simply exhausted.
Morra Aarons-Mele in her article, “An Introvert’s Guide to Surviving on the Job” asks these questions to help determine if you are an introvert: “Do you feel replenished by being alone? Given the chance, would you spend a chunk of your workday in quiet instead of surrounded by co-workers in buzzy office?”
As leaders of your organization, you are often challenged to manage and recognize all the different perspectives, personalities and ways people like to interact with their fellow colleagues and management. It can also be difficult to distinguish best practices for your staff and organization. However, I do not think it has to be an either/or proposition for managing, maintaining and developing your staff.
The extroverts in your office do not have an issue with speaking up in a meeting or voicing their opinions about a change in policy. Yet, how can you empower your staff who take time to engage or are more hesitant to speak up?
Danielle Fallon-O’Leary in her article “10 Things You Should Know About Managing Introvert Employees” suggests the following:
- ask for their input and preferences.
- assign them a work buddy.
- do not put them on the spot.
- create an inclusive environment.
- develop a rapport.
- focus on their strengths.
- allow them downtime.
- practice patience.
- celebrate them in small, personalized ways.
- do not try to change them.
It is important to appreciate all the strengths and talents of your employees. Introverts bring a depth of understanding and a richness of perspectives that might be missed by others. For example, introverted employees tend to be more self-sufficient, reflective, connected and self-aware and resilient, as stated in an article by Robin Buckley, “6 Overlooked Superpowers of Introverts in the Workplace.”
Additionally, they can have a deep understanding and focus on issues, higher levels of creativity, strong listening skills and thoughtful decision-making skills. Reflecting on your staff’s needs and addressing them in a way that is inclusive, understanding and supportive will grow your team, create deeper bonds among staff and produce an environment that is conducive to increased cooperation and cohesiveness.
Read past articles with Nikie Walker:
Featured image credit: Ponomariova_Maria, Getty Images