I know it might be surprising that I’m an introvert and that I feel like this, given I run training on networking and I lead the Lucidity Network (which involves networking). Perhaps the reason I do both of these things is because I know how important networking is to pretty much everything and also how difficult it can be, so I just want to make it as easy and pain-free as possible for people.
I define introversion and extroversion as where you get your energy from. As an introvert, I get my energy from being by myself. Extroverts get their energy from other people. You’re not stuck in an introvert or extrovert box though. It’s like a spectrum. I sit towards the middle of the introvert side of the spectrum, and I can switch on my inner extrovert when needed, for example, if I’m at a conference, running training or presenting. I just have to go home afterwards and be on my own to refuel.
One isn’t better than the other, it’s just useful to understand your own preferences and those of the people you work with so you can adapt your communication to get the best out of both introverts and extroverts.
Here’s what I learnt over the years of working on innovation:
When it comes to innovation introverts come into their own.
- They have no need for external affirmation
- They make order out of chaos
- They are the best listeners
- They connect disparate dots that may save the business.
It’s estimated that between a third and a half of the population is introverted. However, there’s a cultural bias towards extroversion. This means that workplace cultures and practices are often set up in favour of extroverts, the people that speak up first or loudest, the people that are seen to be participating and who are well known in an organisation.
To get better results make sure you are engaging both introverts and extroverts.
Often it’s just the loudest people that get listened to. If you manage a team make sure you make space for introverts to be heard. This takes the form of great facilitation and good planning, for example, ensuring everyone has the opportunity to speak in meetings and structuring ideas sessions with some tasks that people can do on their own.
- A web-based platform or community is a good way to solicit ideas from everyone.
- Offer quiet zones at work especially if you work in an open plan office.
- Encourage introverts to lead, chair meetings, present on topics, lead projects.
- Become aware of the loudest voices, encourage them but do not allow them to be the only voice that is heard.
Let me know how you get on and if you want to learn more about this, then join us for this upcoming online networking event.
On Thursday 9 July, Helen Denny from Not9to5 and I, we’ll be hosting a learning and social experience on how to succeed as an introvert in an extroverted world. We’ve invited Emma Taggart, a leadership coach for introverts to help us understand the different needs of introverts and extroverts. She’ll share how to succeed as an introvert as well as support the introverts around you.