Do you manage introverts? Introverts are commonly misunderstood and often overlooked. Many people don't appreciate that introverts make for some of the most effective leaders. As an executive and leader, it’s critical that you harness the powers of introverts. I am going to give you three tips that will guide you in creating an environment that emboldens introverts to thrive.
1. Re-evaluate your office layout.
Extroverts thrive when they are in the presence of others. Whereas extroverts seek energy from social settings, introverts find social interaction draining. Introverts quickly become emotionally and cognitively taxed while in the presence of others. They need private time to recharge.
The increasing trend towards open-plan office layouts is at odds with introverts’ preferred style of work. If you're intent on creating an environment that introverts thrive in, you need to create secluded, private workspaces where they have an opportunity to recharge. You may also want to consider allowing (or even encouraging) your introverted workers to occasionally work remotely should they feel the need for a recharge.
2. Distribute agendas in advance of meetings
Far too often, introverts get overshadowed in meetings. Research by Northwestern University found that, in a typical six-person meeting, two people account for more than 60% of the talking. The disproportionate participation only becomes more pronounced in larger group settings.
In an attempt to encourage introverts to contribute to meetings, many well-intentioned managers end up putting introverts on the spot, asking them for their opinions, ideas, and reactions. This tactic often has poor consequences. Introverts don’t like surprises and feel ill at ease when they are put on the spot.
An effective way to encourage your introverted employees to contribute to meetings is to ensure they have adequate time to process the content to be discussed. Afford them this time by distributing agendas in advance of meetings. As well, during meetings, ensure sufficient pause time to allow introverts to contemplate how they want to convey their ideas. Preparation time instills a greater sense of confidence in them and motivates them to voice their opinions in front of coworkers.
3. Reconsider recognition tactics.
The brains of introverts and extroverts are wired differently. Comparatively speaking, extroverts exhibit more dopamine receptors in their brains. Extroverts require more dopamine (our brain’s “reward chemical”) to feel happy. In contrast, introverts have a lower dopamine threshold, and don't require as much stimulation to feel rewarded. Introverts tend to feel uncomfortable, overwhelmed, and anxious when bestowed with public praise. While extroverts thrive in situations where they are publicly recognized and praise, introverts tend to prefer private gestures of praise and a 1:1 setting.
The key to being an effective leader is to identify where you and each of your employees falls on the spectrum. Such information will empower you to harness the unique individual strengths of your employees and create work environments and cultures that are conducive to success…which will only help you and your career as an executive.
Nadine Greiner, Ph.D. provides Executive Coaching and Human Resources solutions. Her mission is to make the executive experience exceptionally enjoyable and effective. She believes that the world needs great leaders, and has dedicated her career to helping them.
As an organization psychologist and former corporate CEO, Dr. Nadine understands the pressures and demands executives face. She offers her clients the high expertise that only comes with three decades of consulting success, and a dual Ph.D. in Organization Development and Clinical Psychology. Dr. Nadine is an in-demand speaker, teaches in doctoral programs, and coaches other consultants. She is the author of two books: ‘The Art of Executive Coaching: Secrets to Unlock Leadership Performance’, and of ‘Stress-less Leadership: How to Lead in Business and in Life’. amazon.com/author/nadinegreiner
Contact Information: Feel free to email Dr. Nadine San Francisco Executive Coaching at