I’ve been discussing some of the problems of teams in my recent posts. Everyone works in teams these days, some better than others. Being aware of the pitfalls helps leaders and individuals with managing teams better.
In the work I do coaching, I see big differences in work styles depending on whether one is an introvert or an extrovert. One’s attraction to working in social groups may be culturally influenced as well as a personality preference.
In the U.S., for example, companies tend to idealize charismatic extroverts. (Think celebrities and media-savvy CEOs.) Because extroverts usually talk the most (and often the loudest), their ideas are heard and often implemented.
Psychologists agree that introverts and extroverts work differently. Extroverts tend to tackle assignments quickly. They make fast and sometimes rash decisions. They are comfortable with multitasking and risk-taking.
Introverts often work more slowly and deliberately. They prefer to focus on one task at a time, and they dislike interruptions and noisy environments that interfere with concentration.
Extroverts think out loud and on their feet; they prefer talking to listening and are comfortable with conflict, but not with a lot of solitude.
Introverts, in contrast, may have strong social skills and enjoy some business meetings, but after a while they need to think and reflect. They prefer to devote their social energies to close friends, colleagues and family. They listen more than they talk, think before they speak and often express themselves better in writing than in conversation. They tend to dislike conflict.
To learn more about the important differences in introverts and extroverts working in teams, I recommend Susan Cain’s book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking.
What’s key to understand when managing teams is that both personalities need different working environments to bring out their best. Leaders must understand each team member’s strengths and temperament. The most effective teams are composed of a healthy mix of introverts and extroverts.