Extroverted Companies vs. Introverted Companies

Donald Trump vs Bill GatesMy mother was a very pleasant, bright, deeply introverted lady who was very faithful in her church attendance and in her support of its groups. Because of her regular participation, she was asked to be a member of the welcoming committee for our large church. Like all her jobs, she took it quite seriously. Without fail, she approached unfamiliar faces, asked them if they were new to the church, and made a point of welcoming them to the fellowship.

She came home chuckling one day because of an encounter with a stranger. She told us that, as usual, she had introduced herself to a woman and asked her if she was new to the church. "Actually, I'm not new," the woman replied. "I have been coming here for twenty-three years."

People in business often make the same mistake. A deeply introverted person may be put in charge of reaching out to the customer base, doing the relationship marketing, and it just doesn’t work. There is quite a difference between the way that extroverts and introverts function in business.

Companies also tend to be more extroverted or introverted. An extroverted company tends to depend more on staff meetings. Spoken communication is normal, even for big decisions. "Why write it down when we have talked about it?" seems to be the pattern. Their meetings are lively, filled with chatter.

Introverted companies are the opposite, relying mainly on written communication. They love memos. They trust writing, because it is far more precise and dependable, as well as leaving a "paper trail". Unlike extroverted companies, introverted companies tend to distrust meetings. Too much chatter!

Is your company extroverted or introverted? Does it:

  • Have open boundaries?
  • Collaborate on decisions?
  • Act quickly?
  • Trust oral communication?
  • Turn outside for assistance?

Answering yes to these questions indicates an extroverted company. This sort of company is often strong in terms of sales, marketing, advertising, communications, and so on.

But perhaps your company is introverted. Does it:

  • Have closed boundaries?
  • Keep decision-making to one person or a small group?
  • Respond to issues only after studying them?
  • Have a deep trust in written communication?
  • "Circle the wagons" when in trouble?

So how introverted is your company? This sort of company tends to excel in more internalised, scholarly, or self-reliant tasks such as accountancy, research, certain high-tech functions, writing, or various forms of content creation.

Just like when we are personally introverted or extroverted, companies which lean one way or the other tend to distrust the other way of functioning. An extroverted company is hardly going to trust an introverted approach, and vice versa.

The only thing that tends to work in business is the same thing that works in our personal lives. Executives in companies need to understand and respect the difference inherent in all of us whatever our type. If a company leans markedly one way or the other, it should consciously include some people of the opposite type to enrich an approach that may otherwise prove one-sided.

If they do this, life in the office will likely change. Things will tend to be less uniform and "normal," but more dynamic and creative. Introverts will tell the extroverts chatting at the water-cooler to get to work and to stop wasting everybody's time. Naturally the extroverts will tell the introvert to loosen up and enjoy life more. A little friction may result, perhaps, but --as always-- the mixing of types can help to expand everybody's horizons.

Henry Sharam

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