Inside, Outside, Upside Down

Excerpt from “Managing for People Who Hate Managing” by Devora Zack (September 2012).

By Devora Zack

I’ve been informed by my readers that you want to chat about how our other favorite personality dimension—introversion and extroversion—affects management style.

Voilà! This chapter appears before your very eyes. Please submit your second and third wishes in writing, in triplicate.

Let’s start by asserting there is no correlation between Thinking–Feeling and Extroversion–Introversion. However, the various combinations (four, to be precise) of these two dimensions certainly impact how we manage. The introverted feeler is going to be the most sensitive and introspective of the possible combinations, for example. An extroverted thinker is most likely to inadvertently offend others with his characteristically blunt communication. The extroverted feeler is most prone to organize birthday pizza lunches. An introverted thinker is most likely to work in, well, IT! (Get it? That’s the abbreviation of introverted thinker! Plus, it fits.)

The following charts excerpted from my book, “Networking for People Who Hate Networking,” will help you wrap your head around the distinguishing features of introverts and extroverts.

 

Introverts

 

Extroverts

Think to talk

Talk to think

Go deep

Go wide

Energize alone

Energize with others

Reflective

Verbal

Focused

Expansive

Self-reliant

Social

 

Networking Preferences

 

Listening

Speaking

Calm

Activity

One-on-one

Groups

 

Networking Strategies

 

1.              Pause (Research)

1. Patter (Discuss)

2.               Process (Focus)

 2. Promote (Sell)

3.               Pace (Restore)

 3. Party (Socialize)

 

The Moment of Truth!

Extrovert versus Introvert Managers

Dueling truisms from both villages:

 

Extroverts

Introverts

The more the merrier

Less is more

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts

Groups slow things down

 

Regarding differences of opinion, introverts are more likely to trip up by internalizing their perceptions, not checking them against reality, and stewing over conflict longer than necessary. Extroverts are more likely to immediately share their disagreements and criticisms verbally with others before fully processing their ideas internally.

Whether working through a conflict or simply reviewing the week’s tasks, schedule a bit of extra time for meetings with extroverts. They will appreciate it, and you’ll make up the time in meetings with introverts.

Communication is, of course, a massive component of managing. A hasty assumption is that, by definition, extroverts are better communicators than introverts. This is hooey.
Introverted and extroverted managers communicate differently— each camp has strengths, go-to styles, and challenges. As with thinkers and feelers, neither introverts nor extroverts have cornered the market on best management practices.

What works for you is your customized best approach.

Let’s make it tidy…
 

 

 

Natural Strengths

Go-To Style

Self-Identified Challenges

Introvert Managers

  • Listening
  • Picking up on subtle cues
  • Getting at deeper, initially hidden issues
  • One-on-one meetings
  • Individual contribution to group projects
  • “Let me know if you need me”
  • Contributing to group discussion
  • Attending meetings
  • Firing people
  • Interruptions

 

Extrovert Managers

  • Inclusiveness
  • Generating ideas verbally
  • Organizing group events
  • Get everyone’s input
  • Teamwork
  • Lots of meetings
  • Working late alone on projects
  • Focusing on one item or person
  • Overscheduling
  • Not befriending direct reports
         

When you hear someone espouse the “management by walking around” system, you can bet your bottom dollar that person is an extrovert (unless they mean “walking around outside . . . alone”). If you are an introvert, don’t do it! It just won’t work for you. That doesn’t mean being a grump or a hermit. It means smiling confidently and warmly at people you pass in the hallway but not spending a third of your workday schmoozing. You will deflate faster than a balloon with a hole. Pop! Where’d you go?

If you are an extrovert, do your walk-around thing. With the caveat that you notice and honor the needs of introverts, for whom maybe a smile and wave will suffice. If you are an introvert, you don’t get to hide behind a closed door all day. However, you are allowed to close it for times requiring particular concentration. It is what you need to do your job.

Go, go, go. That’s the manager’s life. What to do? Depends on who you are. Remember: Introverts energize alone; extroverts energize with others. To refuel at lunch, extroverts can hang out with friends; introverts can open a delicious book. The challenges vary. While spending time with subordinates is not entirely off-limits, a supervisor can’t treat these relationships the same way as friendships outside the workplace. That is a particular challenge of the extrovert manager. For introverts, the challenge is appearing too standoffish—you never seem to join the team at pizza lunches. Maybe go once in a while. It won’t kill you.

Speaking of which, organizing occasional events for teammates to hang out together is a real morale booster, whether off-site or with a simple potluck. I highly recommend kicking it off with some structured activities. Even going around and having people share some non-work-related accomplishment from the last year, or a favorite recipe, or a hidden talent, or any number of other conversation openers. Contrary to popular—misinformed!—belief, introverts do better with structured than unstructured events.

Tricks of the Trade

Up next are two quick, useful techniques for managing introverts and extroverts. Although, first we have myths to dispel.

Myth 1: Introverts are negative.
While untrue, this erroneous belief is understandable. What are its origins? Because introverts think to talk, when presented with a new idea, frequently their first reaction is to say no. This tendency earns them the unenviable labels of negative and stubborn. In reality, they are just protecting the need to speak before agreeing to something. Introverts require time to process new ideas.

Solution
Luckily, there is an easy way to get around this conundrum. Write up your idea. Put it on the aforementioned introvert’s desk. Mention you’d like him to look it over, then run away fast. Return at a leisurely pace a few hours later and you may be quite surprised to find a calm, smiling introvert with a few questions about your brilliant new expense submission procedure.

Myth 2: Extroverts are unreliable.
Although also untrue, this erroneous belief is understandable, too! Where does this one spring from? Extroverts talk to think; they speak in order to know what they really believe. What happens? An extrovert on your team states loud and clear his intention to take over a new project and run with it. He never does. So unreliable! Clearly can’t be counted on.

Not so fast. What happened is that, early in the meeting, he was thinking aloud about the new project and got caught up in the moment. He was speaking stream-of-consciousness, working through his thoughts by speaking aloud. You believed him without doing a reality check.

Solution
Rather than labeling an extrovert staffer as flaky, decide instead to hold yourself accountable for communicating clearly with him. Accept that he processes ideas by talking. Explicitly discuss and agree upon next steps after each discussion.

If someone has a truly deep-rooted aversion to managing others, alternatives include becoming a contractor, entrepreneur, or other solo-based professional. However, these options hold much greater appeal for introverts because they thrive on working independently. Extroverts frequently cite loneliness as a major drawback to working alone. They do better looking into alternatives within a larger structure, to maintain a routine sense of community.

Build cohesion among introverts and extroverts by playing to the strengths of both.

P.S. If someone can do it, you can learn it.

Excerpt from “Managing for People Who Hate Managing” by Devora Zack (September 2012). For more information, visit http://www.myonlyconnect.com/books.html

Devora Zack is author of “Networking for People Who Hate Networking” and CEO of Only Connect Consulting, Inc. Her newest book is “Managing for People Who Hate Managing.” OCC won USDA’s woman-owned business of the year and provides leadership programs to more than 100 clients. Zack has keynoted for Smithsonian, National Institute of Health, John Deere, U.S. Department of Energy, CapGemini, Urban Land Institute, National Association for Women Business Owners, Treasury Executive Institute, and Mensa International. Additional clients include London Business School, Deloitte, FAA, America Online, SAIC, National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, U.S. Department of Education, and TSA.

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