Introverts – Shout it loud, Shout it proud

For the last two days I have been on a management training course called Creating a High Performance Culture in preparation for when the organisation moves towards performance related pay. I haven’t done any professional development for a while, and so although it was two days out of a crazy busy diary, was quite looking forward to be bit of ‘me’ time.

The course was really well facilitated and fun along the way. It was great to meet others from within the organisation and to have the time and opportunity to share experiences – and there was a lot of experience in the room.

One of the sessions was on personality types, looking at the ways in which people differ and interact with each other. Considering how as a manager, if I had a greater understand and awareness of what makes individuals in my team tick, I can bring their best performance out.

The session considered the Myers Briggs Type Indicators which is based on four dimensions of personality and on the notion that people have a preference for one of the dimensions more than the other, in its simplest terms. Of course we’re talking about people here and it’s not that clear cut. People can react differently in different situation and around different people, but nevertheless it is a tool to use.

The first dimension looks at differences between an extrovert and an introvert and the we were asked to stand on one side of the room or the other. The room quickly split with the majority standing on the extrovert side, whereas I’m stood on the other side of the room, with two librarians, flying the flag for the introvert.

The extrovert then started to talk about why their personality type was the better way of working compared to an introvert. They said things like:-

· ‘We like talking to people’ – well I like that too

· They said ‘we like forming relationships’ – well I like that too

· They said ‘they were enthusiastic – well I’m that too

· They said they were easy going – well that’s me too

· They said they enjoy things and make things more fun for others – well I enjoy things and also like to make things more fun for others.

When it was time for the introverts to talk about why their personality type was the better way of working, I quickly found myself on the defensive. I felt I had to challenge the perception that as an introvert you were the opposite of the extrovert. We’re not. I felt that if we’re supposed to be opposites that might mean introverts are loners, that they weren’t fun or that they didn’t have any get up and go. We’re not. It suddenly felt like a very negative personality type. It’s not; in my mind, it’s just all about scale – and volume.

Maybe the introvert just isn’t very good at self-promotion or about getting themselves heard over the volume of the extrovert. So, how as an introvert can we demonstrate our enthusiasm, relationships, and achievements if it doesn’t come naturally to us to shout about it? And are there more extrovert managers because the scale and volume of their personality can overshadow the personality of an introvert, or do they simply make better managers?

One thing is for sure, the world is a wonderful place because we are all so different. We all have skills that we can share and learn from. Not one type is better than another and we should celebrate diversity. After all, it takes all sorts of people to make up an organisation and you will need all sorts of managers and leaders to help take an organisation forward.

@katebentham

8th March 2012

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