More Thoughts for Leaders Dealing with the Introversion/Extraversion Gap

Be bold.

Strike out on your own.

Chart your course.

Do it first.

Come out of your shell.

Stake your claim.

These sound natural in our culture, and you might see versions of them on posters in offices and locker rooms. They are meant to inspire and encourage hard work.

But what about phrases like these?

Analyze the risks, then take measured steps.

See what the prevailing mood is before speaking.

Listen to other experts before finalizing your position.

Consider alternatives before acting.

A little over a year ago, DeAnne and I wrote a piece discussing the Western bias toward extraversion.

A couple months ago, DeAnne gave me a gift—a book recommended by Rusty, a commenter on that post.

Quiet by Susan Cain.

Cain fills the book with the history of our extraverted society, the underlying psychology, and practical pointers to avoid extraversion bias and embrace the qualities which can benefit everyone. I recommend the book.

Here are new takeaways for me which I will expand upon in the weeks to come:

  1. Group work can damage creativity, strategic analysis, and innovation. One third to one half of a typical team has members who work better alone. For that reason, creative and analytical processes, like brainstorming, would benefit from an extra, individual step at the outset.
  2. For introverts, Cain offers practical takeaways for flexing their natural style and making major decisions. Flexing our approach to work better with others by “speaking the language” of other styles is something we recommend in DiSC training, too. However, if all you do is flex to match other styles in order to fit in, you will become exhausted. Thus, Cain recommends evaluating your core goals and invest your energy in flexing when it’s in service to the most important parts of your company mission.

In the meantime, check out the book and re-read (or read for the first time) the conversation DeAnne and I had over a year ago. The changes we’ve endured due to the pandemic have made some of the observations in this post even more relevant.

Thanks for reading,

Alan Feirer

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