How to Lead Both Introverts and Extroverts

A team can be made up of all sorts of personalities and it’s your job as a boss to cater for each individual to ensure that they reach their peak level of productivity. However, this can be pretty challenging when a range of personalities also means many different work styles and work preferences.

Studies find that introverts make up one-third to one-half of the population, however most workplaces now are set up with only extroverts in mind. We only need to look at the traits of each personality type without placing vague labels on them, to understand how workplaces often don’t cater for both. In a broad sense, extroverts are typically recharged through social contact, whereas for introverts social interaction costs them energy. However, it’s important to remember that there are introverts that still enjoy the company of other people, extroverts that see the finer details, and those that are anywhere in between.

So how exactly can you change your management style in a way that works for everyone?

Educate yourself and understand their qualities

It is extremely important to acknowledge and educate yourself on the differences of introverts and extroverts, because they both take dramatically different approaches to work and social processes. For example, extroverts have the tendency to work promptly, make quick (and sometimes rash) decisions, making them comfortable with multitasking and risk-taking. Introverts on the other hand, tend to work more slowly to place their focus on the single task at a given time. Extroverts naturally gravitate towards big groups, and have the tendency to think out loud and share ideas. In comparison, introverts may enjoy business meetings and some group settings, but after a while would prefer to be in the comfort of their home.

Talk to the members in your team

Personality tests can be interesting, but don’t feel the need to ask everyone to complete one to figure out who’s an extrovert and who’s an introvert, because usually it’s pretty clear. Whilst some introverts may seem extroverted really the the second they get home from work they feel drained and exhausted because they have been trained to appear sociable and outgoing at work.

It’s important to encourage an open conversation with everyone in regards to their individual work preferences. Asking questions like how do you like to get your work done? In a day, what would be your ideal amount of meetings? Also take the time to remind the team that personality differences can bring different skills and drive performance.

Restructure the work day

Once you have grasped an understanding of everyone’s personalities, start thinking about how you can restructure the workday to suit everyone. This might look like implementing a policy where there are no meetings before 12.30pm to allow people who prefer thinking time the freedom to do that, but it also gives extroverts the confidence that there will be a time to discuss things. Research also indicates that individuals come up with more and better ideas alone than when brainstorming in a group, so it is wise to ensure that your team is given plenty of uninterrupted work time.

Encourage privacy

The modern workplace tends to be following the trends of open floor plans to encourage constant collaboration. However, this environment can seem like it’s built with only extroverts in mind. While it might not be obvious we all (even extroverts!) need a private space to get work done. It’s important to have spaces that allow people to work privately – small design changes may be necessary.

Allow introverts to speak up

In a group meeting of around 6 people, two tend to do the most talking. You need to place an emphasis on making introverted employees feel comfortable enough to speak up and contribute. But definitely avoid asking for direct feedback during the group setting because this might put your introverted employees on the spot and make them feel stressed. Instead tell then in advance that you would love to hear their thoughts so that they can come prepared. Or even share the meeting agenda a few days before so that everyone can think about their ideas and how they will convey them.

And encourage extroverts to listen

While extroverts can bring enthusiasm and openness to meetings, you must also train them to listen, reflect and allow the quieter group members to offer their perspectives. You could even challenge them to encourage their introverted colleagues to speak out.

The above are just a few steps you can take to alter your workplace environment to maximise the potential of each personality type.

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