Who Says Extroverts Make Better Leaders? Part 2
Harness your quiet power with these tools.
Posted Sep 25, 2015
In the first part of this interview, Andy Johnson, author of Introvert Revolution: Leading Authentically in a World That Says You Can’t, discusses misconceptions and biases surrounding introvert leadership. In this second part, he offers tools, tips, and more insights to help introvert leaders thrive in an extrovert world*-centric world.
NA: What is a favorite tool you recommend for introvert leaders?
AJ: As I mention in my book, the DISC profile is a great way to understand behavioral style and temperament in a values-neutral way. In the DISC model, there is no right or wrong, no pathological or healthy—just different ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving, all of which are normal and healthy. I also like that DISC measures the two sides of introversion and the two sides of extroversion, and that people fall into one of 384 patterns. These nuances help them understand themselves better. This model is revolutionary for individuals and organizations.
In my consulting work, I almost always use a second tool called Motivation Insights in conjunction with DISC. Whereas DISC answers the question of how people tend to behave, Motivation Insights answers the deeper question of why. It assesses workplace motivation as related to six primary drives. I’ve come to realize that our core drives, values, passions, and motivations—not just our outward behaviors and temperaments—are related to the yin-yang continuum. I think many introverts have yin drives in addition to their yin temperament, making them feel even more out of step with the competitive yang culture of the West.
NA: What advice do you offer extroverts who report to introverts to help them "manage up" well?
AJ: Extroverts can manage up well by “getting it”: understanding the real physiological differences between them and their introvert bosses. Let me share some practical tips for extroverts. First, be patient. Stop pushing for immediate answers and make room for your introverted boss to come to their own conclusion at their own pace. Next, use less hype. Tone down the “sales” approach when you want your thoughts and ideas to be heard. Another important tip is to use written communication. Many introverts appreciate the written word; it allows us to see thoughts on paper and carefully consider them. Lastly, avoid surprises; most introverts don’t like them. We normally appreciate a good “heads up” regarding impending changes.
NA: What advice do you offer to introverts who manage extroverts?
AJ: Just as introverts can be misunderstood by their extroverted bosses, extroverts reporting to introverts can be grossly misunderstood. Here are some practical ways for introverted leaders to better manage extroverted team members. Start by accepting extroverts as they are. Don’t try to make them more introverted. Celebrate their differences and express your appreciation for the needed balance they bring to the team. Next, understand your differences. Extroversion is a physiological reality—a need for greater outward stimulation—involving different neural pathways and neurotransmitters. So help each person succeed within the context of their temperament and wiring.
Keep in mind that your slower style can be frustrating to extroverts. When possible, pick up your pace to better match theirs. Finally, aim to leverage extroverts’ complementary strengths. They can bring assets to the table such as optimism, hopefulness, humor, energy, drive, and competitiveness. In contrast, introverts are more inclined toward a realistic or pessimistic view. Take in extroverts’ optimism and let it inspire you.
NA: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
AJ: You may notice that most of the leaders in the introvert movement are women. I think that’s due to an additional layer of stigma for men who “come out of the closet” as introverts. We are told all kinds of myths about what it means to be a “real man”—most of which are directly at odds with being our authentically introverted selves. By being an openly introverted male among so many female colleagues in this movement, I hope I can validate other introverted men. This is a critically important topic for over fifty percent of American men.
NA: Thank you again for sharing your encouragement and expertise. Here’s to introvert leaders and the power of thoughtfully balancing yin and yang!
*Also spelled "extraverts" by Carl Jung and the communities of the MBTI® and other personality assessments such as the Five Factor Model.
Copyright 2015 © Nancy Ancowitz