So much of the way we do things at work is designed for extroverts to thrive – bosses are expected to be dominant and out spoken, we are expected to be ‘team players’, we work in noisy, busy open-plan offices. Where does this leave people who need some solitude, some time for reflection in order to their best work?
As someone who Susan Cain would probably describe as an ‘ambivert’ (my learning styles are also equally activist and reflector), I can understand the benefits of both an extroverted and introverted way of being. It’s just that the extroverts’ way of being will naturally be more dominant as extroverts are more dominant. However, as the TED talk suggests, I think it’s worth actively promoting the positive things about the introverted way of being.
For example, Cain suggests that introverts make good bosses. This was based on the work of Adam Grant at Wharton School ‘Analysing effective leaders: why extroverts are not always the most successful bosses’ His article suggests that the best boss for a very proactive team is actually an introverted boss. This is because an extroverted boss may feel threatened by proactive staff, whereas an introverted boss is more likely to listen and support their team’s ideas.
Just as introverted bosses can help encourage ideas, introverts are also better equipped to come up with ideas themselves. The TED talk alludes to Darwin going for long walks alone and Steve Wozniak working alone on the first Apple computer – examples which emphasise the need for solitude in the creative process.
Overall this TED talk made me think about my facilitation work and whether I am fully enabling the more introverted participants to develop their ideas. Am I doing too many group activities? Could I build in some solitude?
What about your work? If you consider yourself introverted, are you able to express yourself properly? If you manage a team, do you consider the needs of the more introverted members?