At some point, you’ve probably been called—maybe even referred to yourself as—an introvert or extrovert.
Psychologist Carl Jung coined these terms in the 1920s. The difference between these two personality types essentially comes down to energy. Extroverted people are energized by social interactions, while introverts need time alone to recharge.
Chances are, you’re not 100% of either. Most people fall somewhere along the spectrum between extroversion and introversion. However, if you enjoy working in groups, talking through problems you need to solve or find it easy to express your thoughts and feelings, you probably lean toward extroversion. If you prefer listening to speaking or are more comfortable sharing your ideas in written form than engaging in a debate or discussion, you probably lean toward introversion.
Either way, you have unique strengths that can help you excel at work if you know how to leverage them.
Why it’s essential to understand your temperament
If you’re not sure which side of the spectrum you lean toward, you might be an ambivert—someone whose personality is a balance of introverted and extroverted features. You can take a quiz from TED to discover your type.
Understanding your natural tendencies is powerful because when you live a life that complements your nature:
You can unleash incredible stores of energy
You can be a loyal, valued team player
You can connect with coworkers and clients in a way that fits your style
You can seek out environments that help you come up with creative and innovative ideas
Do extroverts have the advantage at work?
Extroverts tend to have a leg up over introverts at work. According to a study published in the Harvard Business Review, 65% of senior corporate executives viewed introversion as a barrier to leadership.
If you’re introverted, this statistic may not surprise you. Many introverts have received feedback from managers that they need to “step up” or develop their “executive presence” to be considered for a promotion. Unfortunately, many introverts shut down after receiving this kind of feedback and decide that leadership just isn’t for them.
That’s a shame because introverts and extroverts can be effective leaders in the right teams.
Leveraging your strengths as an introvert
What do Eleanor Roosevelt, Gandhi, Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Barack Obama and Michael Jordan have in common? They all identify as introverts.
Strengths of an introvert include:
Excelling at critical thinking and thinking carefully before acting
Being less emotional in stressful and challenging situations
Exploring problems from multiple angles and getting to the bottom of an issue
Being conscientious about their work and taking time to ask the right questions
Emphasizing quality and accuracy in their work
Setting high standards for themselves
Complying with rules and procedures
Superior written communication skills
Attention to detail
Being a good listener to employees, clients and customers
Introverts tend to do best when leading collaborative teams. Their listening skills allow them to hear ideas from other people and make their colleagues feel valued.
Leveraging your strengths as an extrovert
Famous extroverts include Bill Clinton, Steve Jobs, Winston Churchill, Oprah Winfrey and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Strengths of an extrovert include:
Being able to connect with others quickly
Remembering names and faces
Willing to assist others
Having their comments and ideas well received in meetings
Being straightforward, candid and charismatic
Confident in social settings
Communicating easily with a variety of people
Working well in group settings
Confident and likely to take charge
Extroverts do best when leading teams that want direction from above because they’re comfortable engaging with various people and can motivate others.
There’s no right or wrong way to be in the workplace, and the most productive teams are usually made up of a mix of introverts and extroverts. Each person has strengths and weaknesses, so identify yours and look for ways to utilize them at work. Learn about the other people on your team so you can help them leverage their strengths and mitigate weaknesses. When we can all feel comfortable bringing our true selves to work and know our contributions are valued, we can better serve ourselves, our teams and our clients.
Do you want to turn your firm’s new partners and managers into confident and capable leaders?
The Boomer Leadership Academy is a leadership development program designed specifically for new partners, managers, C-Suite professionals and administrators at CPA firms. Register now so the emerging leaders in your firm can begin performing at a higher level.
As a Project Coordinator for Boomer Consulting, Inc., Katelynn is excited to work with a company that prioritizes allyship, cultural awareness and inclusion. Her primary focus is supporting Boomer Consulting’s Project Managers and handling events at the Accounting Innovation Center.