Talent Management: Introverts v Extraverts
Date: 16th June 2016
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Who do you think is more likely to be successful in business: an introvert, or an extravert?

Firstly, let’s take a quick look at the characteristics that these two are likely to have using the Myers Briggs / Carl Jung interpretation of these traits:

Like people in measured doses. Develop relationships slowly. Small circle of trusted friends.Highly sociable. Develop relationships quickly. Wide circle of acquaintances.
Mainly focused on their internal world.Get bored easily and need to be stimulated.
Don’t like to get attention from a crowd.Like to be centre of attention.
Listen more than speak. Keep their thoughts / ideas to themselves until thought through.Quick to share thoughts / ideas even before they are thought through.

Now we’ve painted a rough picture of who these people are, who do you think would be more successful in the business world?

You would be forgiven for believing extraverts is the answer we’re looking for. If only it were that simple! Unfortunately, there isn’t a definitive answer. In fact, ‘either’ is probably closest to the truth. In order to truly prosper in business, we need a combination of both characteristics.


That ‘answer’ might seem like a bit of a cop-out, but the fact is that no business can succeed without the right blend of people. Introverts and extraverts bring very different skills, ideas and personal qualities to the table, which every team and business needs to succeed.

Case Study: The Economic Crash in 2008
Think of the economic crash in 2008. The financial meltdown was primarily caused by a flawed recruitment strategy. Over a 20 year period, traders with a high need for reward and recognition (who were prepared to take high risks to achieve that ‘buzz’) were recruited and promoted in place of quieter, more cautious introverts. Boykin Curry, a Harvard Business School graduate and Managing Director of US investment firm Eagle Capital had first-hand experience of the problem: “People with certain personality types got control of capital and institutions and power. And people who are congenitally more cautious and introverted and statistical in their thinking became discredited and were pushed aside.”

What can we learn from this?

Good managers need to have the ability to hire and, even more crucially, develop people who possess differing qualities and in the process create great teams. It’s not a case of simply hiring a whole team of extraverts, who will most likely all want to be in the spotlight at the same time! Nor will it work to hire a whole team of introverts who would all prefer to work on their own. Without a wide spread of personalities, skills, strengths and weaknesses, your team will be out of balance and less able to perform efficiently.

The importance of diversity

Diversity is incredibly important in any team. Let’s have a look at some of the most successful business partnerships this decade: Apple’s two Steves!

Introvert v extrovert 1We have all heard of Steve Jobs, who is rightly held up as one of the great innovators of the modern era. But who has heard of Steve Wozniak? Wozniak was the naturally shy, tech-minded introvert who preferred to work alone. Without their partnership, would Apple have had such huge success over the past ten years?

Extravert (confidence) + Introvert (reflective thinking) = Apple’s success

How can you find these perfect partnerships?

Whether you’re hiring an introvert or an extravert, the most important thing is know exactly what it is you’re looking for. Take a look at your team – and identify where there are holes. Do you need more quiet, reflective people? Or more outgoing people who are going to go out and network?

It’s important not to rush this stage. If you take shortcuts, you will probably find yourself in deep water (and at a huge cost) further down the line.

As Apple’s Dan Jacobs succinctly put it:

“It’s better to have a hole in your team than an asshole in your team!”

Remember to look beyond skills and experience when recruiting fresh talent. How much potential do they hold? Could you mould them into the ideal candidate? And don’t forget to consider the motivations of the individual – why do they want to work for you? Workplace Nirvana is within reachread here to find out how to achieve it!

This means no short cuts, no quick fix solution, instead a scientific approach to ensure that you are hiring staff who are motivated to perform the tasks you want them to. Then, it’s a matter of blending these introverts and extraverts into one, perfectly balanced, winning team.

Ready for a challenge?

Find out more about the writer and how considering a candidate’s values, motivations and attitude can help to improve the performance of your whole workforce.




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