There is an assumption out there that extroverts make more money than introverts. But is that really so?
We tend to get this picture of leaders as extroverts because many are outspoken, visible, and share their ideas openly. We see the polished well-spoken, well-connected CEO and think he must be an extrovert (especially if we're an introvert!). This is simply not so. Some of the most successful business leaders, professional women, and entrepreneurs are introverts. Think: Warren Buffet, J.K. Rowling, Steve Jobs just to name a few who seemed to manage to "scrape by" <my sarcasm>.
I am an introvert. One of those off the charts high "I" on the Myers-Briggs® types. Most people who meet me wouldn't necessary think this is the case. Those who see me speak from the front of the room would think, "Who is she kidding! She looks totally comfortable up there!". The truth is that yes I am. Yet I need plenty of solitude, quiet, and time alone on a regular basis to recharge and balance my needs. For every highly energized speaking engagement I have, I schedule purposeful time to regroup in my calendar.
Introverts and extroverts simply draw their energy from different sources, have a different work style, and approach things differently. One is not better than the other. Nor is one more preferable in a workplace. Sure there are some jobs more suitable for introverts and other jobs more suitable for extroverts, but nothing is set in stone.
Because of the thoughtful, solitude nature of introverts they tend to be fabulous at innovation, discovering new ideas, and solving problems. Consider introverts as innovators:
Extroverts suck up all the energy in many work groups, but when it comes to generating innovating ideas introverts may be on par. They just need a way to get their ideas across, says Harvard Business Review.
With the right coaching, mentoring, and support they can build their confidence and learn how to get their ideas heard.
One of my biggest pet peeves in the office was that it does not cater to the introvert. Most workplaces are not set up to allow introverts to thrive and it's only getting worse as collaborative, open space workplaces become more the norm. I'm all for collaborating, but introverts need private space, solitude, and places they can focus and recharge. In Collaborate & Thrive: Does Your Office Cater to Its Introverts? they drive home this disconnect:
When I think of typical marketing agency creative space, I immediately think collaborative areas, bright colors, even a pool table and packed fridge—anything to help “open the mind.” However, the reality is that many of the most creative minds need solitude to harness great ideas.
When an introvert starts their own business, it can be a challenge. After all marketing and sales is not the most introverted activity, right? I know personally I occasionally wished that I were some fabulous cheerleader or sorority sister in a previous life so that I could thrive faster when I started my business. Problem is - that would not be authentic, wouldn't be me, and certainly not sustainable. I enjoyed this article from a BlogHer member "On Starting a Company as an Introvert" which talks about what it's like to lead a startup as an introvert.
Salaries aside. Are extroverts happier? With all that outgoing-ness and proclivity to connect with others (first, more often, and for longer periods), do they fundamentally live happier lives? Once again, I don't think so.
Susan Cain author of QUIET: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking answers the question: Are Extroverts Happier Than Introverts? Yes, But...There are many different ways to define happiness. I love this article more than I can say in words. It speaks to me deeply. I particularly love #2 because it flies in the face of all those people through the years that said to me ... you're being morbid or morose. Not so... I was marveling!
2. The happiness of melancholy: I’m crazy about the famously melancholic singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen, who has probably never written a single song outside the minor key. When I listen to Cohen’s musings on love and loss, yearning and sorrow, I feel happy. But why? It’s not an exultant kind of happiness. It feels more like a marveling at the fragile beauty of the human condition, and a pleasure in having someone articulate it so sensitively.
Studies, theories, and assumptions aside, I think there's a perfect place for all of us. After all, it's your own uniqueness that will be the greatest source of your success. Isn't that what personal branding and playing to your strengths is about? Capitalize on your style. Learn more about what makes you be at your best, feel more alive and then go do THAT.
What do you think? Have you struggled as an introvert in an extroverted world? Would love to hear your experiences in the comments.
Paula Gregorowicz plucks women off the hamster wheel of overwhelm, struggle, and self-doubt and guides them to a purposeful path of building authentic and successful businesses.
Download the Free Report: Your Own Uniqueness: The Path to Purpose, Prosperity, and Playfulness at http://www.thepaulagcompany.com.
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