I really like using several different and diverse instruments to help leaders better understand themselves and their teams. However, one of the downsides to any assessment is our attempt to take complex things – like people – and put them in a well labeled box. Most of us are in the mussy middle of most assessments including the label of extrovert and introvert. There are the rare individuals who live on the edges or extremes. As mentioned in my recent post on dealing with introverts, it is really about where an individual gets their energy. For an introvert, their energy comes from being alone (see more about introvert leaders, see 5 Tips to Work with Introvert Leaders). For an extrovert, their energy comes from being with people.Is your leader an extrovert? They look for opportunities to engage with a wide range of people. Click To Tweet
You may have to do some research and digging to determine if your leader is an introvert but if they are an extravert, it is usually much more obvious! For example, it took me some time to realize that the President/CEO I work with is an introvert. I saw him in lots of social settings and he and I would talk often about issues and work but overtime I realized he was indeed an introvert and needed time alone to refuel. On the other hand, the Executive Vice President I work with is an extreme extrovert. He gets his energy from people and he is often out walking the halls of our organization meeting with people. It wasn’t hard to see his extrovert personality in action.
Here are some things to know if you work with an extrovert leader:
- They get their energy from people.
This is the primary difference between an introvert and extrovert leaders. Extroverts need time with people to refuel. They look for opportunities and even create opportunities to engage with a wide range of people. You will often see an extrovert out in the organization talking with people and rarely alone in their office with the door closed.
- They like to process out loud with others.
Extroverts like to engage in dialogue with others working together to process problems, develop new ideas, or develop strategies for the future. They prefer developing plans with others rather than alone. They are great at leading idea or brainstorming sessions because they truly value the input of multiple people.
- Respect their need to be with people.
They really do like social gatherings and many important decisions are made talking over coffee in a friendly conversation. You will need to adjust to give some of your time to informal engagement with them. What seems to be surface chatter is actually an important component toward building a rapport with an extrovert leader.
- They are prone to optimism and enthusiasm.
They don’t like the negative. They don’t really even like neutral. They prefer relationships that are positive, energetic, future focused, and optimistic about challenges. Let them shine by listening with genuine interest to their ideas and thoughts.
- Don’t bring them a solution but several options to discuss.
They prefer to be engaged with you in reviewing options. When you bring them multiple options to a problem or opportunity, it allows them to contribute to the assessment of each.
- Accept that they will have many different friends.
If you want an exclusive relationship with an extrovert, you are going to be disappointed. Extroverts will have many different friendships and multiple engagements with colleagues in your organization. You may be on their list of close relationships but there will be many others on the list also. They will give some of their time to individuals but not all of it. Their social calendar will be full most of the time. They make friends easily and love the opportunity to meet new people.
Extravert leaders need introvert leaders around them. The CEO I worked with is very close to the EVP and they are extreme opposites in this area. Their introvert and extrovert personalities complement each other and make our team stronger and more effective. God has made each leader with their own set of unique gifts, abilities, and personalities. Learning to appreciate that diversity and seeing the strengths in each make for a much healthier team and organization. A diverse leadership team will be a stronger and more successful team.
What other suggestions would you have in working with an extravert leader?