How Can Introverts Manage the Extroverts on Their Team?

Ahhh, the illusive extrovert. So much unbridled energy.  Such lengthy conversations.  Such an outgoing and brazen personality.  To a true introvert, the extrovert may seem like a creature from a different planet.  For an introverted manager, this can pose an especially perplexing debacle. The general perception of managers is that they are extroverts; they are supposed to motivate and lead, and are rarely thought of as timid or apprehensive.  However, there are plenty of ways to lead and motivate as an introvert; keen observers and contemplative in nature, there are several introvert traits that can comprise a great manager.  By leveraging their own skills and knowing exactly how to manage the extroverts on their team, introverts can truly excel in managerial roles.  The article below from Bloomberg Businessweek by Jennifer Kahnweiler gives great tips on how to embrace an introverted personality in a leadership role.

Are you an introvert or an extrovert?  Do you have any tips on how to best to work with teammates on the opposite side of the personality spectrum?

Tips for Introvert Managers: What makes your extroverts tick? Look for—and leverage—five defining behaviors:

1. Energized by people. Extroverts thrive on working with others. They like to engage anyone and everyone in conversation and even hold court as the center of attention. Without people around them, they deflate like balloons without air.
2. Talk first, think later. Extroverts make sense of the world by first talking about it. From last night’s client dinner to this morning’s team meeting, they process almost everything through talk and hardly ever come up for air. The thoughts in their head must come out, now.
3. Choose breadth over depth. Extroverts rarely go deep when discussing issues and ideas. They like batting around divergent possibilities that might (or might not) converge to create solutions, and they don’t mind moving from topic to topic.
4. Act fast and fervently. Extroverts are excited just to get moving. Their pace is quick, and as natural multitaskers, the more they can juggle, the better.
5. Are open books. Extroverts, ironically, need not tell you what they are feeling; it is written all over their faces. Their body language can also speak volumes and, because they’re perpetual movers, it often “says” a lot.
Now that you’ve identified the extroverts in your organization, use these tips to fuel your—and their—success:


1. Let them think out loud. As an introvert, your natural ability to tune into others can serve you especially well with extroverts. In fact, recent research reported in the Harvard Business Review reveals that introverted leaders are more likely than their extroverted counterparts to listen to, and process, the ideas of an eager, vocal team. Additionally, you can help your extroverts refocus when they ramble on (and on) by using your “innie” instincts to dig deep and ask pointed, penetrating questions. It’s also O.K. to have extroverts send their ideas before meetings or conversations, giving you a chance to reflect on the ideas beforehand.
2. Make room for face time. In today’s tech-fueled workplace, face time is about much more than chitchatting. For extroverts, in particular, it’s about your connecting with them, eyeball to eyeball, and collaborating on their views and ideas. Resist the temptation to hide behind e-mails or texts—a frequent source of disconnects and misunderstandings—and get out there as much as possible. If your extroverts work remotely, reach out via regular phone calls.
3. Play to their strengths. Leverage your extroverts’ people skills early and often. Working at trade shows, entertaining customers, or heading up community service projects are just a few of the opportunities for your “outies” to sparkle in meaningful ways. Even if an extrovert’s job isn’t a people-intensive one, you can find ways to put his or her extroverted energy to work wisely.
4. Pull up the curtain. Your extroverts probably have a hard time reading you, even perceiving a negative vibe from your silence or pauses. They want—and need—words. Are you mad, sad, or just thinking? Help set the stage by explaining your more quiet, introverted nature and how you tend to process new information. Tell extroverts, for instance, that when you don’t immediately respond to their questions or ideas, it doesn’t mean anything other than “I’m just taking time to think.”

5. Be yourself. Many people say their best boss ever was an introvert. Why? Because in our go-go extroverted business world, an introvert’s quiet, deep, and reflective leadership style can be a tremendous asset. So don’t try to be an extrovert. Instead, adopt a few simple new behaviors and just be … you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>