Introversion and extroversion go to the heart of who a person is: how they work, how they live, and how they interact. Dealing with this at work isn’t always straightforward. Below we explore the differences between introvert and extrovert managers.
Carl Jung said, “There is no such thing as a pure introvert or extrovert. Such a person would be in the lunatic asylum.” Introverts and extroverts are the two extremes of the personality continuum. Extrovert and introvert are fluid states of being. They are not fixed.
The best managers are the ones that have this amazing ability to control their personality trait. One day they are extroverts and the next morning they turn out to be introverts. They move along the continuum. So it doesn’t matter where you stand on the continuum, the only thing that matters is how you deal with the situation at hand and that’s what make you the best manager.
Being an introvert or an extrovert doesn’t make you the best manager rather your unique strengths, and how you control your weaknesses make you the best manager. For instance, introverts are supposed to be the best listeners and excellent observers. This is something that extroverts don’t have naturally. Similarly, the high energy and social skills of extroverts are unique to them.
The key is to learn to master your strengths to be a better manager. You can’t change your personality completely because introverts and extroverts have different brains. While you can behave like your counterpart for some time, but it can’t be permanent. So the best approach is to master your own strengths and continually work on your weaknesses.
“Introverts are capable of acting like extroverts for the sake of work they consider important, people they love, or anything they value highly.”
– Susan Cain
Here are ten differences between introvert and extrovert managers:
Extrovert managers never seem to meet a stranger. Everyone is a potential client, or better yet, a potential friend. They like to work with other people, the energy of interacting with others gets them going and drives them to do more and perform even better at their jobs.
Introvert mangers on the other hand only talk to people if they absolutely have to. And when they do they like to keep it as short as they possibly can. They often prefer to work in solitude and easily get agitated if interrupted. Interacting with other people generally drains them.
Extrovert managers seem to volunteer for just about everything that comes along. They will often find themselves sitting on several committees at a time, even if the committees have little in common.
Introvert managers on the other hand tend to wait until an assignment has been refused by everyone else before stepping up to it. Unfortunately this can easily be interpreted by co-workers as laziness.
One of the key differences between introvert and extrovert managers is in social settings. Extrovert managers like to involve themselves socially with everyone who will have them. They enjoy instigating personal discussions and often quickly become the “social bees” of their given departments, organising office parties and inviting everyone to drinks after work.
Introvert managers on the other hand acknowledge the lives of others but don’t like to enter social discussions. They rarely show up for gatherings that are not business related so you will rarely, if ever, catch them at office parties or buying rounds of drinks after work.
Extrovert managers can easily be scatterbrained in executing their duties from the responsibilities they sign themselves up for and all the conversations they keep interrupting themselves to partake in.
Introvert managers on the other hand often have impressive powers of concentration and problem solving. When they present their plan, it will usually be thoroughly detailed and well thought out.
Extrovert managers can easily emotionally overpower a client who prefers to remain “strictly business,” causing mistrust. They thus must learn to moderate this tendency according to the client’s needs.
Introvert managers on the other hand always keep things professional. Sometimes so professional that they don’t connect with the client at all on a personal level which can also be counterproductive.
Extrovert managers can get burned out quickly from all their efforts trying to impress others or earn their respect through over-commitment. They therefore must learn balance and when to say no.
Introvert managers on the other hand rarely suffer burn out because they do not take on unnecessary commitments. However, they can suffer burnout from being too isolated and failing to delegate work.
Extrovert managers can easily become overly friendly with staff and clients and even cross into harassment. Proper boundaries are a must if this type of manager is to maintain the respect of others.
Introvert managers on the other hand can act as a buffer or diplomat, as they tend to observe behavior from a distance. They can often explain differing points of view without becoming emotionally involved.
Even though these differences between introvert and extrovert managers may make you assume extroverts would be better leaders, it isn’t always true.
Extrovert managers make for natural leaders as they are often charismatic and good at inspiring their people to deliver their best work possible, adding a warm personal touch to management and consistently checking on the progress of their teams.
Introvert managers on the other hand can also become effective leaders, not in spite of but because of the fact that they don’t push themselves forward. They tend to have a realistic view of their abilities and the patience to figure out the job as it progresses.
Extrovert managers would often rather meet with people and start the day off running. They tend to be more productive when they can bounce ideas off others during the workday. You should schedule regular brainstorming sessions or encourage them to engage with other people as needed.
Introvert managers on the other hand generally prefer to ease into the workday by sorting and planning alone for the first half an hour. They may want to retreat strategically during the day. You should allow them to schedule “alone time,” or encourage them to use a “do not disturb” signal when necessary.
Extrovert managers may want to explain every detail of their plan immediately. You should acknowledge their good ideas in front of their peers without allowing their enthusiasm to hijack the meeting.
Introvert managers on the other hand may not be comfortable speaking up when a general call for ideas is given. So make sure to Ask them directly (possibly before the meeting) if they have suggestions.
“In an extroverted society, the difference between an introvert and an extrovert is that an introvert is often unconsciously deemed guilty until proven innocent.”
– Criss Jami
Many people like to assume that extroverts make better leaders, causing managers to often feel concerned with the effect of their personality on leadership.
However, the truth is that any personality type—introvert, extrovert, ambivert, or any other vert on the continuum—can be a capable, effective and successful leader. The differences between introvert and extrovert managers can be harnessed to deliver the results you need.