Friday, September 9, 2016
One of my favorite aspects of my work with the Center for Leadership Excellence is helping others explore their personalities. Our personalities are our outward facing selves, the way in which our values, fears, and ego drivers manifest themselves in our day-to-day actions and preferences. Since leadership is rooted in self-awareness, learning about our personality is often a fun and easy way to begin developing our own leadership style.
Perhaps the most widely known – and misunderstood – aspect of our personalities is introversion and extroversion. The common misconception is that those with a preference for introversion are shy and don’t like to socialize, while those who prefer extroversion are outgoing and talkative. In reality, introversion and extroversion describe two things: how we prefer to engage with the world and how we recharge our psychological batteries. Those with a preference for introversion prefer to engage with the world through thoughts and ideas and recharge by processing information quietly in their own heads. Folks who prefer extroversion tend to engage with the world through action and recharge by engaging with others through either an activity or socializing. An over simplification would be to say that introverts think to speak, and extroverts speak to think.
I happen to have a very strong preference for introversion, yet my job requires me to spend a great deal of time speaking in front of others (i.e. extroverting), whether it be facilitating a class, leading a meeting, or guiding a conversation. I enjoy extroverting, and think I am pretty good at it, but as an introvert, it is mentally tiring. After a long day of facilitating, I need time to be alone and recharge.
Gaining a better understanding of what introversion and extroversion really mean and how different people express their preference can be hugely beneficial to your team. You can gain a better understanding of why people behave the way they do, what you can do to support them, and how to appropriately challenge them to either introvert or extrovert when needed.