A friend of mine recently posted an article on his facebook page that caught my attention. It’s from Forbes.com and is entitled “The Secret Power of Introverts”. In it, the author explains that the American workplace tends to favor, and even reward extroverts for being good team players.
My mom jokes that I came out of the womb with wide eyes, ready to interact. It was clear from the beginning that I was an extrovert. I do believe that my extroverted personality has served me well in the workplace. Almost every job I’ve held has not only encouraged me, but required me to be a “social” worker. Work has been comprised of brainstorming sessions, lively conversation and debate, even group development sessions where in a “war room” environment we rapidly create an end product over the course of a few days. I’ve seen colleagues with a more introverted style struggle with such social work. It is true that often the loudest voice is the one that gets heard.
Susan Cain, the author of Quiet, summarizes this personality issue in a very clear directive – It’s up to leaders to learn not only how to appreciate, but also leverage the diversity of styles within their organizations. It’s all about making people thrive, or as she says, cultivate people’s “best selves.” And someone’s “best self” is as individually unique as they are.