It seems that my LinkedIn newsfeed is getting more and more populated by articles about the poor, misunderstood introvert. Introverts are getting recognized as having a certain kind of quiet power, and so much is being written about how to manage this character in the business world.
Like any other label, “Introvert” is about a certain aspect, a certain quality. It is not such a broad category that the how-to’s will be accurate for introverts in general. I would hate for my boss to stop in his thinking process every time we meet over a topic and remind himself “Tim’s an introvert, so I need to……” and then go through some checklist he read on line.
Worse yet is the notion that Introverts won’t like the same activities as extroverts. That we need to design certain training or team building based around some middle ground where the “ambiverts” live. This is neither helpful nor realistic.
Being an introvert – which in my definition means that I probably fall a couple of standard deviations from the norm of the introvert/extrovert bell curve – is one aspect of who I am. It doesn’t mean I won’t enjoy a good team building exercise or that I won’t take the microphone on Karaoke night (I probably won’t, but that’s not my introversion, it’s my lack of musical ability). You might think that I am not fully vested in the activity you designed for the team build, but you would be wrong. I am differently invested.
Let me manage that issue. Introversion is not a disability that requires legal accommodation. It is one of many differences that people bring to the work place that any good manager will understand enough to take advantage of. That’s what good leaders do. They take advantage of the strengths that each of their players brings. They use those combined advantages to create a competitive advantage that is hard to beat.
On one hand, I am glad that so many experts seem to be offering advice to managers on this issue. I just wish they would talk more about the balance of needs of any team of people, and less about introverts as though they are disadvantaged.
If you had a good ROI measure, you might just find that your introverts have a bigger return than your extroverts. And how is that a disadvantage?