As a big-time extrovert, I struggle with the topic of this post. I often under-utilize introverts without even realizing it. I love to interact with people because it is fun, energizing, and helps me be more effective (so I think). However, not everyone operates this way.
The business world is geared towards extroverts. Just look around you. Brainstorming meetings, training classes, teams solving problems in short time frames, etc. When we conduct business as normal, we are undermining the value that introverts bring to the table.
So here are three quick and simple (but not easy) things you can do to leverage introverts.
1. Give them time and space.
They are more insightful and productive if they have time to be alone. Individual time allows introverts to recharge and process information.
2. Create a safe environment.
Extroverts love to talk; that’s how they think. Introverts are the exact opposite; they think best by processing the information internally. When you invite introverts to a meeting, make sure you give them enough information ahead of time so they can come prepared. Giving them individual processing time during the meeting is also a great idea.
3. Encourage them to be transparent.
Unfortunately, extroverts can sometimes paint introverts into a corner. This means that extroverts expect introverts to share their thoughts and ideas right away. Encourage introverts to tell extroverts that they would like some time to think about it (the issue or situation), and they will get back together later that day or the next day to share ideas, feedback, solutions, etc.
As a leader I have the opportunity and responsibility to set team members up for success. As an extrovert, one great way I can do this is to take a little bit of extra time and to ensure I am leveraging the skills of and introverts. If we can all do that, our clients and our teams will be more successful and we will be leading interstates way.
Keep leading the Interstates Way!
Scott Peterson, Interstates Chief Executive Officer