How Extroverted Leaders Can Help Introverts to Succeed – CEOWORLD magazine

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How Extroverted Leaders Can Help Introverts to Succeed – CEOWORLD magazine

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In today’s fast paced workplace, achieving success requires speaking up, taking initiative and now more than ever a certain savvy for promoting yourself. Extroverts naturally thrive in this environment exuberantly connecting to people, jumping head first into projects and proudly heralding their accomplishments.  The whirlwind of extravert energy can leave an introvert questioning their personal value and ability to compete in the face of our culture and the current virtual workplace. According to an article in Leader to Leader, based on a survey by USA Today, four out of five introverts believe that extroverts are more likely to get ahead in their workplace.

As a CEO, you could be missing out on an introvert’s natural ability to think carefully, listen intensely and approach issues with laser sharp focus, all assets in growing and building a successful enterprise.  You can support introverts and empower your company by offering introverts the opportunity to exercise their special strengths for your benefit.

Introvert strengths

While a more quiet and contemplative work style can be perplexing especially to an extrovert leader, consider the strengths possessed by your personality counterpart:

Reflection- Introverts tend to think before speaking. This allows them time to more deeply consider relevant questions and to identify key points, often resulting in valuable contributions and insightful comments when you do finally speak up.

A recent study at Harvard University found that compared to extraverts, introverts have larger and thicker grey matter in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which is the center for abstract thinking and decision-making.

Listening-Because they observe and listen carefully they demonstrate their interest by asking well-considered questions. They often excel at drawing people out which can make them very effective in cultivating work relationships.  Their natural ability to listen shows interest in the mutual process and in other players, which in turn builds trust, a valuable quality in business.

Concentration– Introverts are highly stimulated by the process of digging deep to investigate, analyze and get to the bottom of a crucial business issue or problem. This ability to intensely focus often results in productive solutions and innovative ideas.

Sensitivity- The tendency to overthink things often causes an introvert to be more sensitive and responsive to the feelings and sensibilities of those around them. They know what it’s like to feel invisible in large groups so they are more likely to ensure that everyone relevant to an issue or situation is included in the work conversation or meeting.


The work world is a place requiring voices to sound out opinions and suggestions during meetings and virtual events. When an introvert fails to respond quickly to a question or an important issue it is often mistaken for passivity or disinterest by extroverts when just the opposite is likely to be true. What’s going on in the introvert’s head may result in important questions to consider or a unique approach to a problem. They just need a bit more time to think through the issue.

Virtual Meetings

Most introverts learn to face the reality that career success involves speaking up and relating to others. However, it can be especially unnerving in the new normal of Zoom or Skype meetings when that camera shines its all too bright light.

CEO’s can support introverts in the virtual environment by providing an agenda or laying out the main issues to be discussed at the meeting. This gives an introvert time to reflect on key points, identify creative solutions and ideas or generate questions that they can put forward during the discussion. Before the formal meeting begins, you might also ask all participants to give a quick update on projects or initiatives. This ensures that everyone including introverts have a chance to speak up and participate.

Introverts enjoy working in small groups. Take advantage of Zoom break out rooms as another strategy that helps introverts jump into the discussion and bond with teams.

Managing Introverts

Introverts benefit at times from a gentle push by directly requesting that they present a report or articulate survey results to staff or special meetings.  They succeed by relying on their natural introversion and tapping into available extravert skills. You may want to check in with them before or after meetings for their feedback and ideas.  Avoid drowning out an introvert by your natural extravert tendency to speak your mind at length.  If you are exasperated by an introvert’s apparent lack of response, have an open dialogue to clarify what is occurring and see how you can communicate with each other more effectively.

As a CEO, your ability to achieve success is often the result of building dynamic teams that work collaboratively and effectively while reflecting a diverse set of skills and talents. The synergy of both introverts and extroverts creates thriving teams and promotes a healthy balance to working relationships.

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August 23, 2020 at 05:08AM

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Dr. Sharon Lamm-Hartman