Introverts are often misunderstood. Being introverted doesn’t necessarily mean someone is shy or that they’re even unusual. It’s estimated that anywhere from a third to half of the population is introverted, and chances are, you have a few of them on your team.

As a leader, it’s easy to overlook the value of an introvert — especially on a team with louder and more present voices. But I’m going to tell you why overlooking their value is a big mistake and how you can leverage both introverts and extroverts for maximum team effectiveness.

Introverts aren’t always shy

Introvert and extravert are terms coined by psychologist Carl Jung. An introvert is a personality type that directs thoughts and feelings inward, while extraverts direct these outward. People generally fall on a spectrum between the two, taking on traits that can fall into both personality types.

Personality traits of introverts:

  • Creative
  • Introspective
  • Independent
  • Good listeners
  • Focused
  • Pragmatic

An introvert can excel in a collaborative situation when their personality strengths and nuances are respected. So, how can leaders create an environment where introverts are at their best?

Making introverts comfortable

It isn’t always easy to recognize who is or isn’t an introvert on your team. Leading them effectively requires us to create an environment where they could thrive. Here’re some ways you can do that at home and in the office.

Don’t put an introvert on the spot. Introverts think carefully about what they say or do in a social environment, such as a meeting or presentation. You’ll find that they have much more to offer when you give plenty of notice and details on how they can prepare. If possible, provide them with the option to provide their contributions in a written form like a memo.

Give them their space. The important thing for an introvert is having control over their environment. Open office spaces, which are all the rage these days, don’t give introverted workers the peace and solitude they need to be their best.

Make contributing easy. Most of them have the skills to communicate well in collaborative environments but can quickly find these types of social situations exhausting. By creating a workplace where introverts have the freedom to switch between working alone and collaborating, you can maximize the contributions they give to the team.

Introverts are great for teamwork

Introverts have a lot to offer when it comes to teamwork — especially when they are engaged with the task. They provide a balance for more extroverted personalities, offering valuable insight and reminding us to be more deliberate with our decision-making process.

Studies have also demonstrated that they actually make for some of the best leaders with a team of extroverts. A diversity of personality types can have many benefits for a team, making it more flexible and resilient.

Handling diversity as a leader can have its challenges, but it can be your team’s greatest strength when done right. Here’s how leaders can leverage diversity to drive success.

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