Extroverts are externally oriented and very aware of what is going on around them. They are more likely (than introverts) to reveal what they are thinking and feeling. They are action oriented. They like variety and like to make things happen, not just think about them. Their natural strengths are to get the ball rolling on projects, and keeping their eyes and ears open on what is going on beyond their own efforts. Weaknesses can include being easily distracted; instigating action without thinking through the goals and future requirements; and dominating team meetings and conversations. However, extroverts are valuable to all teams. Their can-do spirit is helpful in many situations.
Though people think about extroverts when they think of great leaders, introverts make great leaders too. They are more focused on the inner world of thoughts and concepts. Their natural tendency is to think before action. They help teams by insisting things are well planned and have been thoroughly thought through. Weaknesses can include appearing secretive or overly intense because of their interior thinking. They often wait to be asked for their opinion, and then don’t want to provide it at the moment. They want to think it through. This can be frustrating for team members who want immediate answers. However, introverts are important to the team because of their ability to keep the team focused and can provide a healthy cautiousness delaying actions that others may not be prepared to support.
Conflicts can arise due to understanding. Extroverts can become frustrated with introverts who do not respond quickly to questions at meetings. Extraverts wonder, “why can’t we just give it a shot rather than sitting here and thinking about all this stuff?’ Introverts get uncomfortable with the desire to act for the sake of acting. They tend to zone out at meetings when extroverts bounce from subject to subject. Leaders of both preferences need to learn to adjust in order to match the message of their to all team members.
If you are an extrovert, provide some quiet time in meetings before asking people to express their point of view. Announce key issues ahead of time and provide information on them so everyone can review and be prepared for the meeting. If you are an introvert, expect extroverted team mates to speak out on issues beyond the subjects on the agenda. Use the ‘parking lot’ tool to keep the meeting focused.
Thoughts and exercises from Gregory Huszezo’s Tools for Team Leadership: Delivering the X-Factor in Team Excellence.