Leading someone who is different than you can be difficult. Let’s face it, it can even be downright frustrating. Over the years, I have had the pleasure of leading many different people. Extroverts, introverts, creatives, analysts, organizers, salespeople, and the list goes on.
The scenario that quickly becomes the most difficult is usually when you are leading someone that could be considered the opposite of you. It’s hard because you find yourself not being able to relate to how they work and not understanding why they do the things they do. It can often seem as though they’re main priority is to make life/work hard for you.
And, rather than trying to find ways to work with this person, we instead try to find ways to change them and make them more like us. This can be even more frustrating and disappointing. Of course there are some ways that an introvert can grow to a point where they can function better in a setting where they need to interact with large numbers of people. But at the end of the day, they’re an introvert and, chances are, they will never become an extrovert.
So, rather than trying to change someone else, I submit to you that we should try to find ways to maximize who they are in order to get the job done. Here are some strategies that an introvert can employ to better lead an extrovert and maximize their performance:
- Be intentional about their “people time.” It’s no secret that extroverts are energized most by spending time with others. For an introvert, seeing this at work can seem like they are slacking off or simply socializing. However, if an extrovert is not able to interact with others, he/she will become disengaged and their performance will suffer. As the leader, it’s important that you are intentional about allowing them to be with and interact with others.
- Help them understand how their work impacts people. Since people are central to their personality, extroverts need to know the story behind the why and what. Simply assigning a task to an extrovert often seems cold or unimportant to them. However, when you’re able to tie their work to a person or a cause, their quality of work skyrockets. When they know, specifically, how their work creates a story, changes a life, or impacts a community – they are energized and excited to do tasks…even the mundane.
- Spend time with them regularly. I’ve said already that extroverts are energized by being with others…and that includes YOU! It’s easy for introverts to get hyper-focused on tasks and miss the people part of their jobs. If you work with a group of introverts, this may be ok for a season. But, if you work with even one extrovert, he/she will begin to feel alienated and will start to write stories in their minds about how you feel about them…whether it’s true or not. With an extrovert, spending time with them will be a primary way to motivate them.
- Encourage them to work in teams whenever appropriate. This is not always possible, of course. But when it is, make it happen! And, be someone who is open to the idea of completing things in groups or teams. You may be fine to complete 100% of your to-do list by yourself, but extroverts are not. You may have to get outside your normal ways of looking at tasks, but it will increase the quality of an extrovert’s performance to do work with others.
- Celebrate your differences. I find that we too often sweep differences under the rug and try to not talk about them. And, in doing so, we miss the opportunity to celebrate the fact that we are different. The greatest by-product of this is that we are presented with the unique opportunity to help extroverts better understand how an introvert is wired. When we understand each other, we appreciate each other and are better able to work towards a common goal.
As an introverted leader, it is somewhat inevitable that you will lead an extrovert at some point in your life. Learning how to maximize how their created will lead to a better relationship and a better end product for your organization. Who are the extroverts that you lead and which of these can you begin doing this week? Comment below and let me know…