Deborah Russell Coaching

Extroverts make more successful Leaders

How do you prefer to recharge you exhausted energy? By relaxing quietly by yourself or interacting with a group of friends?

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Looking at how you recharge or adversely deplete your ‘energy’ only begins to explain the difference between Introversion and Extroversion preferences.

“There are statistics that prove that more Extroverts make more successful Leaders”.

At the ‘Top level’ management in UK there are 73% Extroverts and 27% Introverts, whereas First level managers show that 64% are Extroverts and 47% are Introverts, 

and yet Barack Obama, Elon Musk, Meryl Streep, Albert Einstein, Hillary Clinton, JK Rowling, Marissa Mayer, Steven Spielberg, Bill Gates are all known Introverts.

So this clearly counteracts any belief that Introverts don’t make effective Leaders or that they can’t demonstrate Extroversion. We have plenty of examples of this switch in behaviour so the statement, ‘Top Leaders are more likely to be Extroverts’, whilst is a true statement, it is one that has become controversial. 

Introverted Leaders have each of them leveraged their Extraversion to work in their favour without it ever becoming their natural preference because their natural preference is to get their energy from no interaction, and ‘not’ external interaction. External interaction is in fact the cause of their energy depletion.

There is still a misconception about Introversion and people may see it in a negative light – no fun, no friends, shy, distant, antisocial or even boring as well as unlikely potential Top-level Leaders. 

What are Extroversion and Introversion and why the pressure to perform like Extraverts?

With continued misunderstanding or misinterpretation over the subject is it surprising that over 90% of people feel more pressure to perform in an Extroverted way? Is that because it seems more socially acceptable? Will they not only be more successful but more liked or respected too? These are real dilemmas.

Extroversion shows up in tending to act before we think, and often acting quickly after talking things through, they tend to be more expressive in their interaction, and gain energy from it. They also tend to have a wider breadth of interests.

Introversion is where thought processing prevails action, preferring to spend time on reflection, and thinking things through before decision making. Tendency to be more contained when interacting, more reflective and gain energy from personal time and concentration. Somebody with introversion would have a depth of interests rather than breadth. 

An Extroverted in a meeting with all Introverted, could struggle with the slowness in pace, and the depth of the analyses in the meeting. On the other hand, a group of Extroverted Creatives could be overpowering for an Introverted team player and he may recharge by doing something separately alone.

Remote working:

Remote working:

In remote meetings it’s less easy to spot the Introverted. 66% of Extroversion disagreed or strongly disagreed that they would prefer to work remotely against 47% of Introverts. These figures are further explained in the struggles from working at home.

The struggles:

Those with Extroversion preferences will struggle with spending too much time alone, with not enough external stimulation and not having enough people for interaction. There is too little stimulation in the home environment, and not being able to socialize and travel creates a life that is just too quiet for them.

Those with Introversion will equally struggle with too much time with others, where there are too many external distractions and may be reluctant to go back to this environment. They may however have really battled with a noisy home environment during covid – kids, housemates at home, washing machines, and with too many online meetings. At the same time they will probably have started to expect to not need any external contact and becoming stressed at the thought of being exposed again and not being able to work from home in the future. There’s a significant push/ pull of emotions here. Through Covid times Extroverts have had to learn to adapt to a situation that goes against their preference, but most have learned to cope.

Introversion in teams teams

interesting question I heard this week: do diverse teams perform better than homogonous teams? 

Homogenous teams may be more skilled at implementing what they already know, and where systems are all in place. Also where only simple responses are required for tasks to be completed and where there is little uncertainty or ambiguity. And in particular where things are pretty much staying as they are. 

However, a diverse team is more likely to be better skilled at innovation and creativity, exploring new ideas, in particular where new systems and processes are required to move things forward. Also where there is some uncertainty and most importantly where things are needing to change and perhaps are already changing. 

Generally, diverse teams seem to take longer to make decisions but perhaps they make better decisions? They may also experience more conflict and need better support on dealing with conflictual issues to avoid team toxicity from brewing.

Teams diverse in terms of Extroversion and Introversion are known to perform more effectively.

So how can we make Extroversion and Introversion work better for us and how can we work with both?

The first step is awareness that they both exist, that we all have an Extroverted side and an Introverted side to us and recognise that we all show both sides at different times. Understand that Introversion and Extroversion is about how you ‘charge up’ and adversely ‘use up’ your energy, it is not about behaviour because as we know we can all, with practise and self-work, leverage behaviour to something completely out of our comfort zone. Talk to any Introvert performing Extroversion and they’ll tell you how they learned to show up as Extroverted.

Getting the most from team members with Introversion.

  •  Awareness that Introversion is a preference, like writing with your left or right hand it may easily fall into default behaviour.
  •  Allow time for thought, give tolerance to thinking time.
  • Listen carefully, don’t dismiss or ignore what is being said and better still acknowledge it to show you have properly heard!
  • Consider the best communication channels for discussion and feedback.
  • Interruptions – avoid them as they break the flow and don’t interrupt yourself. 
  • “Me time” respect the me time necessary to charge the batteries.
  • Don’t overwhelm with too much unnecessary information.
  • Think about the iceberg analogy…. you only see or hear what an introvert does or says, but there is a lot more going on under the surface, so you may need to explore further.
Deborah Russell

Deborah Russell, Executive Coach, PCC, MBTI-MP Team Coach and Facilitator

Data source: The Myers Briggs Company

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