Contrary to popular belief, extroversion is not always the key to success in the workplace. Many people nowadays strongly identify with being introverted, so much so that a third to half of the population believe they are introverts.
Introversion is considered as a major personality trait among psychologists and behaviour coaches. On the other side of the spectrum to extroversion, people who are introverted have a tendency to focus on their own internal thoughts, feelings and moods rather than seeking others to stimulate their attention like extroverts. In other words, when extroverts acquire energy from socialising with others, introverts have to expend their energy and work harder to be gregarious. It is for this reason that introversion is confused with shyness or being a loner, but really these are common misconceptions. Many introverts can, in fact, socialise easily with others, but they just prefer not to. Introverts generally remain more reserved and introspective than extroverts, maintaining only a few close relationships and often thinking before they speak.
What can introverts bring to the workplace?
1. Introverts are reflective
Introverts often have a very calm and reflective demeanour. They think before they act, which means that they are analytical and take the time to reflect on what is going on around them. In meetings or brainstorming sessions, introverts often tend to contribute thoughtful, considerate and productive ideas. This attribute can also be extremely beneficial for when the workplace becomes tense and stressful, as introverts have the ability to remain composed and well-reasoned.
2. Introverts are comfortable working alone
Introverts believe strongly in being autonomous and self-managing their own projects. This means that introverted employees are often extremely self-motivated; they do not rely on other people to inspire them and they can take the initiative without consistently seeking the opinion of their manager. Having independent introverts within the workforce makes it easier for your company to delegate tasks, trust that they will be completed in time and consequently focus on other areas of productivity that require more attention.
3. Introverts are good listeners
Good communication is essential to every successful workplace, and the key to good communication is having the ability to listen to others. Even though introverts can come across as disengaged or hesitant, they have been proven to be excellent listeners and are extremely attentive to their fellow employees, always providing their full attention to whom they are speaking. Having this ability means that introverted employees can build great one-to-one relationships with their colleagues, and are keen to create a collaborative team network.
4. Introverts can be great leaders
Introverts value being a part of a close team. Rather than pursuing their own personal ambitions, introverts often remain focussed on the company’s goals and are motivated to see the team succeed. Even though over 60% of top executives across the globe are extroverted, a recent study concurred that extroverted leaders can actually be a “liability for a company’s performance”, particularly if their followers are also extroverts. The reason for this is that extroverted individuals can be so keen to contribute ideas that they fail to listen to others’ input. Introverted leaders, on the other hand, are not threatened by or unreceptive to proactive employees, but rather they seek to embrace it.
5. Introverts provide a balance
Extroverts have a tendency to be outgoing and lively. They seek to develop friendships and enjoy being the centre of attention, whereas introverts are often the complete opposite. It is for this reason that it is essential to have a complementary binary between both qualities. For instance, the thoughtful introverts ensure that a range of ideas are being considered by the animated extroverts, while the action-oriented extroverts boost enthusiasm and encourage introverts to socialise with others. Providing this balance has been proven to create a more successful and productive workforce, one where every individual feels comfortable and is given the opportunity to thrive.
If you are aware of their intuitions, introverts can be a huge asset to your workplace. In the words of Susan Cain: “Make the most of introverts’ strengths – these are the people who can help you think deeply, strategise, solve complex problems, and spot canaries in your coal mine.” So what are you waiting for? Now’s the time to embrace the power of your introverted workforce!