Extroverts in the Workplace
In contemporary psychological terms, “extrovert” is used to describe a individuals whose temperament type or preference directs and receives their energy from external sources. In the practical sense, they are action people who plug into others for their juice. They’re not generally drawn to reflection, they are “doers.” Talking things out is an extrovert’s way of understanding, solving problems, reducing stress, sharing, and communicating. I am less likely to say to myself, “what are they really thinking?” when working with an extrovert. These individuals prefer, and work well in, group projects. They can be visible leaders because they easily tolerate, in fact often enjoy, attention. They represent between 60 -70% of the population, though they are more prevalent in certain professions such as sales, teaching, and corporate middle management. Some famous extroverts are Bill Clinton (Hillary is an introvert), Ronald Regan (Nancy is an introvert), Steve Martin (no idea who his partner is), and Mark Twain (ditto), Sam Walton was an extrovert, and Warren Buffet is an introvert. You get the picture.
In the workplace, extroverted bosses will pull together their staff for group meetings, advocate for a bullpen office layout, place their desks in the center, or face their workstation looking out at “the troops.” Talking to all levels will get them the energy and information they need. Employees will generally know where they stand with an extroverted leader, though they may not always be thrilled with the directness and sometimes see their manager as aggressive or gruff. An extroverted boss will be quick to initiate change, want action “now,” and ask you to plunge into the work, especially if he/she senses demands from outside their area. “Keep me posted,” “Let’s talk it out,” “Take a big picture view of it,” will be expressions of the need for the individual as much as the requirements of the work. Isolate and the extrovert will think something is wrong. They will attempt to pull you out or distract you. “The silent treatment” can be torture for an extrovert and a devise that should be used sparingly by those who want their way.
If you have extroverts working for you, you’ll see them more often than your introverts. They’ll “stop by” and “check-in” sometimes just to draw a bit of energy from you. Input and weigh-in are important to extroverts, so it’s essential you ask them their take; outside opinions are generally sought and welcomed. When conflict arises, an extroverted employee will want to address it immediately, openly, and prefer face-to-face over the written word. They will press you to state your position, even if you admit you need to “think it over.” You’ll know more personal information about your extroverted employee. They’re more likely to socialize with people in the workplace and expect you to do so as well.
Extroverts run the risk of speaking before thinking. The talk, think, talk syndrome can get them in trouble when they blurt out a reaction or are too quick with a reply. Encouraging an extrovert to silently play through their response can be an enormous buffer to their natural inclination. Teams that have a mix of introverts and extroverts do best, provided the extroverts allow the introverts time to think before they speak and the introverts don’t dismiss extrovert comments and calls for action as bravado or stealing the limelight.
In my corporate experience, it was easiest to identify the extroverts when we had our annual sales meeting. To begin with, most of the attendees were line managers who dealt with the public and large staffs all day, every day. They talked, directed, cajoled, and paroled their entire workday. The sales floor was their stage; ideal for most extroverts. Gather hundreds of them in a ballroom and you’d have a deafening noise level, people standing on chairs yelling with an enthusiasm that only escalated as the program progressed. The biggest agenda mistake anyone could make was to have a financial update (on a long PowerPoint deck, no less) or some other form of operations mandate, midday. Listening was not this group’s forte and when they were revved, they didn’t want to give it up.
I could always spot the introverts. They often sat in the back of the room, generally with the other introverts, many of whom were top management, IT people, and the accountants. When the noise level rose, they covered their ears or took copious notes for distraction. They would sneak out to the restroom for a reprieve. Not that they weren’t interested or excited it was the others’ expression of it that was literally wearing them out.
At the end of the day’s program there would be a break before dinner (another wild celebration). The extroverts would travel to the bar or lobby and with great animation, and much debate, talk the day’s events out. The introverts ran to their rooms for cover and to recover. Both groups were then refreshed for the next segment of the evening.
Extroverts appear to rule the world (they are the majority) and play an important role in any organization. They’re often misunderstood by those less extroverted or by introverts. Allowed to express and draw energy can have a very positive effect on the workplace. Misplaced or misused, they can use their outward focus for negativity and sabotage.
That’s a quick overview and generalization of the extroverted type. Now here’s your challenge.
Knowing what you have taken from this article and the one on introverts:
- How would you type yourself? Your Boss? Your employees and coworkers?
- What would be the best role for the extroverts on your team?
- In times of change or stress, who should do what, when?
- If you are picking your “Dream Team,” who would be the extrovert you would draft, and what role would he or she play?
Jane Cranston is an executive coach, career coach and “The Job Search Expert” based in New York City. She shares with success driven executives and professionals techniques, skills and goal setting strategies that advance their careers, increase people management skills and assists them in career change or job search. Receive Jane’s free "Competitive Edge Report" and the free audio download “Creating a Career Strategy” by visiting www.ExecutiveCoachNY.com.
About the Author
Executive and career coach, “The Job Search Expert,” Jane Cranston understands the challenges and opportunities in the workplace. She integrates years of experience as an accomplished senior executive with global brand name companies, with the lessons learned from opening three successful businesses, and then applies her education and coach training. This sophisticated mix affords her clients her unique perspective, business sensibility, and entrepreneurial spirit.
Jane is the founder and Managing Director of ExecutiveCoachNY, an executive and career coaching business based in New York City with clients nationwide. She coaches success-driven executives and managers to develop a career strategy that accelerates advancement, increases compensation, enhances people-management skills as well as gets the competitive edge in all business activities.
Coaching with Jane is dynamic, structured, forward-focused as well as fun and inspirational. Working with clients in fields such as finance, technology, media and entertainment, real estate, and the law, she assists them in recognizing and achieving their full potential at work and in their personal lives.
Clients claim coaching with Jane has “changed my career focus,” “helped me better understand how to motivate my staff,” “given me ideas that have increased my income by $100,000s,” and “made me realize what is my part and what isn’t,” and claim coaching is “the best thing you could do for yourself.”
Jane’s soon to be published “Great Job Tough Times” is a step-by-step job search system designed to assist managers and executives looking for employment, or contemplating leaving their current positions, with their resume writing, interviewing skills, networking techniques, and negotiating need to get the right job fast.
Jane Cranston is frequently seen on CNN’s “Your Money” and quoted in nationally syndicated newspapers, magazines, as well as Internet article sites and virtual programs. She authors the free, twice monthly, “Competitive Edge Report.” Learn more on her website www.ExecutieCoachNY.com.