The Symbiotic Relationship of Introverts and Extroverts

June 19, 2019

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The Symbiotic Relationship of Introverts and Extroverts

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You may not understand them. You may not even like working with them. In fact, they may downright aggravate you.

But you need them.

You need the people who are opposite of you.

There is great value in the symbiotic relationship of introverts and extroverts.

Extroverts tend to be the initiators and risk takers; and introverts ensure those initiatives are implemented and that risks are mitigated.

Where an organization is too heavy on extroverts, things either don’t get done, or don’t get done correctly, and then must be re-done. Or there may be great sales but balls dropped on customer service. Quality control issues and lawsuits are trademarks of an extrovert-heavy organization.

Where an organization is too heavy on introverts, analysis paralysis can prevail. Sales can be slow, with lackluster results. Innovation may suffer due to risk-aversion or not enough of a push-through factor. The organization can be inwardly focused to the point of thwarted outward success.

To the question of which group is most important to an organization, the answer is “neither” and, yet, “both.”

No group is more important; but both groups working together is of critical importance.

Consider this.

Those who push your buttons may be the key to your organizational success.

The Introvert Lament

“They are just too pushy. Everything is rush-rush-rush. It’s intense! They have no idea how long it takes to do the details of what they ask. And while we’re working on one thing, they’re back with ten more…and a change on the first thing! Their favorite words are ASAP and NOW!”

The Extrovert Complaint

“They are so slow! And questions…they ask endless questions. I just want to get things done, and they want to analyze everything. It’s like working with a roadblock! I just want ONE thing done ASAP, and they are trying to explain to me how it can’t be done right now. Just…get…it…done! What is taking so excruciatingly long? Must I do everything myself?”

In today’s workplace, speed is everything. But so is quality. One point of failure, and you will see the speed of mob social psychology flare up like a wildfire.

And so it is that introverts are just as integral to the business as extroverts. Introverts tend to be the programmers and support for the organization. Trying to do business without them these days is a recipe for disaster.

Extroverts tend to be the innovators and drivers of a business. In a highly competitive market, where time is of the essence, extroverts are key players.

How you can work together to create a symbiotic relationship?

1. Recognize the value of each person.

Part of being able to work with someone across the aisle is to appreciate their different perspective. From their vantage point, they can see things you can’t. That is of great value.

2. Learn to communicate, not in your terms, but theirs.

Yes, you, as an introvert, need to know details in order to do the work. You can train yourself to think through those details quickly and then formulate three to five bullet-pointed questions to help you get started on the right track. Ask the extrovert those questions quickly and succinctly and move forward. Never ruminate through a process with an extrovert. This is not their form of communication. As a deep thinker, you will also need to train yourself to surface regularly and let your extroverted team members know what you are working on. Because the activity is inward, they can’t see progress. Help them see it by communicating regularly.

As an extrovert, when dealing with your team of talented introverts, train yourself to slow down just a bit and to listen. Prepare yourself for questions. Answering those questions is to your advantage because it will help them do what you request efficiently and correctly. Never be short or stern with an introvert unless it is absolutely warranted. Keep in mind their desire is to help you get things done, not impede progress.

3. Honor different approaches to processing.

As discussed in a previous article, each personality style will have a methodology for getting things done. Some personalities dive in and get things done immediately; but they may also need to be re-done because a detail was missed. Some think first, then act.

As a leader, give your people the space they need to think into the work; or the freedom to try things and fail, then try again. These are merely different ways of processing. What matters is that these processes come together in the end to accomplish the goal.

Surprisingly, an introvert who is accorded time to plan and design a system can get things done as fast – or even faster – than an extrovert. Where an extrovert is hands-on, activity-driven, an introvert may create an automated process, for example. Therefore, it is important to respect each person’s way of processing. The results of these perspectives working together can be phenomenal.

4. Create opportunities for each person to shine.

Every person on a team brings a unique blend of personality, gifts, skills, and experience to the table. As a leader, one of your most important roles is to give each person a chance to excel in their area of strengths. It is a bit like turning on lights. If there is only one light in the room, it is hard to see. But the more lights you turn on, the broader your field of vision.

As a leader, you have the choice. You can choose to let only certain people shine; or you can develop your entire team to their maximum brilliance.

It just depends on how broad you want your field of vision to be.

For more resources on how to create and lead a symbiotic team, click here to learn about the Maxwell Method of Communication Impact Report.

As the CEO of Strength Leader Development, Deb Ingino is a highly sought-after international executive mentor, coach, trainer and speaker. Deb is well versed in global business operations and helps business leaders and their teams to discover and leverage their strengths, so they can create highly collaborative teams that deliver great results. With a refreshingly direct style, Deb helps leaders and their teams to deliver profitable results. Connect with Deb to learn more about her mentorship and coaching programs to equip you with advanced strategies to elevate your results.

When you have a strong team that collaborates well,
you have a competitive advantage.

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