Leadership Coach and Business Psychologist Jasbindar Singh discusses how to deal with introverted team members, whether you are their manager or work under an introverted leader. Doing “round-robins” in a team meeting where every person can contribute their thoughts, feelings and ideas, ensures both introverted and extroverted personalities have the chance to talk, she writes.
“Introverted feeling types have a wealth of warmth and enthusiasm, but they may not show it until they know someone well. They wear their warm side inside, like a fur-lined coat.” – Isabel Briggs Myers
In our world, the externals including charisma and outgoing personalities get noted and praised starting right from our early school days.
For example, one teacher’s feedback, “Johnny is a confident, active and outgoing child.” On the other hand “Sarah is quiet and withdrawn and doesn’t easily mix with others.”
I wonder if we have an unconscious bias towards ‘quiet’ being seen as “less than” when compared to the more gregarious energetic personalities!
Okay – so we are who we are and here’s what we need to remember:
Both personality preferences – introversion and extraversion – have their strengths and challenges.
As bosses, parents, teachers and community leaders, we need to be mindful that both the extroverted and introverted personality preferences have their own strengths as much as their challenges.
If we are aware of this, we can optimise performance and communication with our colleagues, direct reports, students and even the rebellious teenager, on some occasions!
“Well-developed introverts can deal ably with the world around them when necessary, but they do their best work inside their heads, in reflection. Similarly well-developed extraverts can deal effectively with ideas, but they do their best work externally, in action.” ― Isabel Briggs Myers, Gifts Differing: Understanding Personality Type
Let us look at team meetings where we spend a large chunk of our working time.
Introverted personalities tend to be quieter and not readily discuss their gems in meetings. While for the more extroverted types, speaking their minds or – their thoughts – as they get formulated – is not an issue.
The extroverted personality can come across as confident because they are never short on opinions or a willingness to say whatever is present for them in the moment. This is how they think….in talking it out.
On the other hand, those who are more introverted tend to be more quieter unless they feel really strongly about something and only then they might speak up.
However, when they do speak, they get peoples attention because more often than not, it has real substance and is well thought through.
‘Depth’ is a word that often gets used to describe a team member with introverted preferences.
To get the best from the more introverted team member show that you value their input by inviting them in and asking for their insights and perspective…and give them some time for reflection before reporting back!
Getting the best as their manager
You need to be conscious that they will not be easy initiators so you will need to draw them out by asking for their views.
If you have more introverted preferences yourself then you will naturally have more resonance and empathy here.
As a manager or leader you need to be aware that to get the best out of your more introverted team members (or family members for that matter), you also need to give them time to consider and process things on important agenda items so your asking does not put them on the spot.
While the typical extrovert’s claim of their more introverted team members is, “They do not say much in meetings” the introverts view when probed is, “It is hard to get a word in edge-wise!”
Doing round-robins in a team meeting which is basically doing a round in a circle where everyone gets to contribute their thought, feelings and ideas on the question/topic under discussion ensures that both personality types get to speak and therefore have equal air-time.
The introverted leader
We sometimes overlook the fact that we have just as many introverted as extroverted managers and leaders.
If you are a more introverted leader then know that you may have to make more of an effort to share information, be visible, initiate and express and give praise in ways that inspire and engage and builds a high performing team.
Doing team personality profiling is a great way of understanding your individual and team profile. It provides a common language and can take away a lot of unspoken tension and judgment amongst team members.
Learning about personality and team type is not only fun and helpful for improved work relationships but with family too.
Introversion and Influence
Regardless of our personality types, we all need to get our ideas communicated to those who matter.
If you have read this far, a question I am exploring currently and I would love to hear from you is:
If you identify yourself as more of an introvert, what helps you get your ideas heard and acknowledged with your key stakeholders?
Source: For further reading, you may wish to look into books on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). The work and tool was developed by Katherine Briggs and Isabel Myers based on the work of Carl Jung.
Jasbindar Singh is a Business Psychologist, Leadership Coach, Blogger and Speaker. She specialises in leading with emotional intelligence. Contact Jasbindar via [email protected] or visit http://jasbindarsingh.com/. You can also find Jasbindar on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Jasbindar is available to speak at conferences on emotional intelligence.