Leading your Introverted and Extroverted Staff

According to The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) – a personality-testing tool based on the work of Carl Jung – an individual’s extroversion/introversion value is measured by how he or she acquires energy.

Extroverts

  • are energized by being around and interacting with people
  • are recharged by external stimuli, such as personal interactions, social gatherings, and shared ideas
  • gravitate toward groups and constant action
  • tend to think out loud
  • work well in groups
  • learn by explaining

Introverts

  • are energized by times of quiet solitude
  • are recharged by quiet reflection and time alone to research ideas and focus on their work
  • gravitate toward one-on-one relationships
  • need time to think before speaking or acting
  • work best in small group or solitary settings
  • learn by taking time to reflect on the material presented

Generally, extroverts are labeled as outgoing, sometimes impetuous, often talkative, and are known for being comfortable in groups. They have a lower basic rate of stimulation, which means they need to work harder to stimulate their minds and bodies to their “normal” state. They often seek novelty and adventure. Spending time with people recharges their personal battery.

Introverts get energy from their “inner world,” having a preference for being alone (or with only a few select people). They thrive on clarity, but can be too reflective or hesitant. Crowds often overwhelm and/or overstimulate them. Time alone recharges them, as does being in predictable situations.

Because introverts and extroverts can be polar opposites, leading a team consisting of both personalities is challenging. It demands a balancing act that requires a clear understanding of the difference between the two and mental, as well as emotional, dexterity. These leadership tips will help ensure that both extroverts and introverts have a voice and contribute their unique skills to the team.

Encourage team connections

  • Host team social events over lunch in surroundings that are familiar to everyone, such as at the office, where all will feel comfortable and more inclined to interact.
  • Enroll the team in an interpersonal communications skills development course. This type of training will help everyone to gain a clearer understanding of how the “other half” operates.

Keep brainstorming sessions and team meetings small and on-track

  • Schedule them well in advance.
  • Before the meeting, ask participants to submit a bullet-point list of their ideas.
  • Draw on these points to help introverts express themselves more willingly and keep extroverts on topic as they describe their ideas. 

Learn to respond to and interact with extroverts and introverts effectively

The extrovert:

  • Respect their independence
  • Compliment them publicly
  • Allow room for their impetuous enthusiasm, while keeping them on track
  • Offer verbal and appropriate physical gestures of affirmation

The introvert:

  • Respect their need for privacy and time alone
  • Address them quietly and privately with either compliments or reprimands. Never embarrass them in public
  • Give them time to think before answering, and then don’t interrupt them
  • When possible, provide advance notice when change is expected or new projects are coming
  • Teach new skills in small groups or one on one

No matter what type of leader you are, these tips will help you adapt your style to accommodate both extroverted and introverted employees, keeping both groups at peak performance.

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