Leadership Perspectives

7 things extraverts and introverts can each do to be better leaders

November 13, 2012

In my last post, I asked you to make a list of all the ways that your preference for introversion or extraversion may help you in your leadership endeavors.  (To understand whether you prefer introversion or extraversion, read Do you prefer extraversion or introversion?  Your leadership style may depend upon it.)  Then I suggested that you list all the ways that you can think of where your preference may create blind spots or not serve you well.

Each has a light and dark side.  Preference for introversion or extraversion is a matter of personality type; there is no right type.  Each preference provides strengths and also has a dark side.  Leaders can overcome potential disadvantages of their preference by working first to understand others who do not share their preference, and second, by developing their abilities in their non-preference.

Leaders who prefer extraversion may be well served by:

  1. Remembering that while they draw their energy and inspiration from contact with other people, they may need to moderate their approach at times, in order not to overwhelm others.
  2. Allowing introverts the space that they need to produce their best work.
  3. Exercising patience with projects or tasks that are necessarily more protracted.
  4. Occasionally slowing down and thinking things through more thoroughly before acting.
  5. Putting aside welcome distractions to focus on the task at hand.
  6. Looking for opportunities to work on teams, where extraverts often do their best work.
  7. Listening carefully and providing visual or verbal cues that one is listening.

Leaders who prefer introversion may want to work on:

  1. Recognizing the extravert’s need to process aloud.
  2. Putting aside their preference for written communication when a person or situation would be better served face-to-face.
  3. Learning to decide or act quickly in certain situations.
  4. Carving out opportunities for private work space.
  5. Allowing one’s self the opportunity to recharge after periods of intense activity involving other people.
  6. Seeking opportunities to communicate one-to-one or in small groups.
  7. Opening up to others and sharing information or ideas more readily.

The careful deliberation and introspection of the introverted leader and the outward facing animated style of the extraverted leader are both valuable leadership assets.  The key to success is found in honoring your own source of energy while cultivating the necessary skills inherent in your non-preferential style to bring out the best in others.

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