Hot on the heels of New Year celebrations, World Introvert Day celebrates the 50 percent of people who get their energy from their inner world of thoughts and feelings or quiet reflection rather than by being around large groups. Understanding the ways in which they contribute and unlocking their potential is key for businesses and managers. Contributor John Hackston, Head of Thought Leadership – The Myers-Briggs Company.
“It’s crucial for companies to understand the different personalities and behaviours of their employees, and World Introvert Day represents an excellent opportunity to consider how those inclined towards Introversion behave at work – and how organisations can best support them in order to flourish”, says John Hackston, Head of Thought Leadership at The Myers-Briggs Company. “Our recent global-wellbeing research has highlighted that when companies encourage and reward more extraverted behaviours, they do not always inspire the best performance in introverted employees. This can also have effects on their workplace well-being and so it is highly important that organisations work to understand the personalities of different employees, and thus enhance their performance.”
Business leaders tend towards Extraversion
Although the world’s population is split down the middle in terms of those who prefer Extraversion and Introversion, a global sample of over 200,000 employees shows that only 40 percent of executives, top executives, and senior managers lean towards Introversion. This is not always the case and does vary country by country. For example, 40 percent of executives in the United States and 38 percent of executives in India are predominantly introverted, while 32 percent of executives in Mexico and 30 percent of executives in the UK prefer Introversion.
Getting the most out of brainstorming
Organisations generally model brainstorming sessions with the extraverted process in mind. The downside of this is people often wrongly concluding introverts aren’t as engaged in brainstorming sessions. When introverts speak up in brainstorming sessions, it’s usually after they have evaluated and eliminated options on their own. This is markedly different to extraverts who are happy to speak as they think and engage in verbal back and forth.
To get the most out of introverts it is very helpful to send out the topic or brainstorm prompt before time. This allows them to go through their own mental processes before joining the group and means they will be confident about their ideas.
Being aware of the nuances
People are far more complex than simply introverts and extraverts. In fact, Introversion and Extraversion are more verbs than nouns. Every person extraverts some part of their personality (outwardly displaying it) and also introverts another part of their personality (using that personality process internally and not outwardly displaying it). According to personality type dynamics theory (how parts of personality type work together), the most developed part of an introvert’s personality is introverted. The part of an introvert’s personality that’s extraverted is a less developed part of their personality. Essentially, an introvert’s personality superpower isn’t what’s obviously seen by others.
Introverts score lower in workplace well-being surveys
Results from The Myers-Briggs Company’s three-year study titled Well-being and MBTI Personality Type in the Workplace: An International Comparison show a statistically significant difference between those preferring Introversion and those preferring Extraversion when it comes to workplace well-being. Those who prefer Introversion score an average of 1 point lower on a 10-point scale, or roughly 10 percent lower in overall well-being than those who prefer Extraversion.
Workplaces have the opportunity to find more ways to support their introverted employees’ well-being. Higher levels of well-being not only benefit the individual but also improve performance of organisations. The results from the study show most Introverts report the following activities to be effective for supporting their well-being at work: Undertaking work where they learn something new; Undertaking work that gives them a sense of purpose and Helping co-workers when they need assistance.
Playing video games may increase their well-being
Introverted types are more likely to select intrapersonally-oriented activities (e.g. reading, playing video games, meditation) to support their well-being. One activity some introvert types rated as the most effective for increasing their well-being was ‘playing video games.’ It makes sense, as playing video games relates to motivational aspects of personality type (goal oriented, preferring an introverted environment). A summary of what each personality type found effective or less effective is detailed in The Myers-Briggs Company’s research white paper: Well-being in the Workplace: Why it Matters for Organisational Performance and How to Improve It (Boult, Thompson & Schaubhut, 2018).