Why Introverts May Be Better at Business Than Extroverts.
A Note From The Editor
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Every business environment in the world is comprised of a hodgepodge of individuals, all with different traits that make any workplace unique. But, beyond the obvious differences of race, gender and ethnicity lies something a bit more complex and harder to discern: introverts and extroverts.
Sure, you can tell who’s who rather easily, but the way they’re wired is what makes it especially complicated and incredibly interesting to observe. If I asked you who might make the best entrepreneur, an introvert or an extrovert, most people would say extroverts. After all, most have the gift of gab, never seem to meet a stranger and could sell ice to an Inuit.
Yet you wouldn’t be wrong if you're also thinking that introverts can bring just as much to the table -- if not more.
Introverts after all have the ability to focus for long periods of time; they have a propensity for balanced and critical thinking; and they feel comfortable empowering others. In fact, there are some famous introverts out there who have changed the way we do business -- among them Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak, Mark Zuckerberg and Warren Buffett. No one can deny how those guys have changed things and how much they’ve brought to the table.
Introverts tend to be successful entrepreneurs because they are capable of leading a company from a very focused place. They are also interested in leadership -- not for personal glory, but for the good of the company. Their emphasis is on creating something, rather than amplifying their own persona.
Here are a few other traits that make introverts well-suited for entrepreneurship:
1. They crave solitude.
Most of the time it’s easy to dismiss the person sitting quietly in the corner as weird or anti-social, but instead of thinking that, you should ask yourself, what are they seeing or thinking right now? Why? Because introverts process information internally. Whereas extroverts verbalize a lot more, and often, introverts prefer to observe. Don’t worry, they’ll chime in when they have something to say.
Another thing to be cognizant of is that introverts prefer to spend time in smaller groups or even alone, as they feel drained from social interactions or large groups. So while large networking events may not be their strong suit, a sit-down meeting to close out a new business deal might be where they shine.
Introverts prefer to think about the task at hand or the next project before acting upon an idea. This is beneficial when executing a business plan, tasks that require a lot of attention to detail or come up with new strategies once the venture is launched.
2. They have no need for external affirmation.
Introverts often rely on their own inner compass to know if they’re making the right decision or doing a good job. While I won’t be confused with an introvert any time soon, I’m a big believer in relying on that gut feeling. I have relied on mine my entire business life, and it hasn’t steered me wrong. Introverts rely on this more often than not and it can give them an advantage.
Who knew introverts and I had something in common?
When introverts believe their ideas are good, they don’t back down, nor do they look for someone else to validate their position. While they welcome external validation, that validation is not a crucial part of the process, nor does it define or distract them from the ultimate goal. They have a clear vision about what’s worth pursuing and what’s best being left alone.
3. Can you hear me now?
Ever tried to interrupt an extrovert? If you have, you know how hard it can be to get a word in edgewise. Sometimes it’s because he or she has moved on to the next idea and the next ten moves after that. Nothing wrong with that. But sometimes the most valuable thing an entrepreneur can do is listen. I mentioned before that introverts sometimes don’t speak unless they have something to contribute, and this could prove very valuable especially during moments of crisis.
Introverts like to make order out of chaos and they achieve that by listening, observing and analyzing a situation. This might infuriate a few extroverts, including myself, but before you tell them to "spit it out," take a step back. Their ability to connect disparate dots might help save your business. Isn’t that worth a few extra minutes? I think it is.
Also, in any line of business, listening to your customers is essential -- if you want to keep them happy. Introverts may not be the best speakers, but they certainly are good listeners and tend to ask the right questions. In some instances, talk is cheap. Listening is worth its weight in gold. Introverts also don’t seek the limelight. They prefer to have their work speak for them, and this can be an advantage if you’re in sales or marketing. Just remember: Sometimes listening is just as good, if not better, than talking.
4. They’re realists and can remain objective.
Just as happened during the Enlightenment period, when ideas centered around reason, introverts can remain objective through tense moments; they have the ability to see multiple points of view and different ways of reaching a solution to the problem at hand. They may have an emotional connection, but emotion won’t overrule their rationality. As a result, they can act diplomatically if needed and take control of the situation.
For every hot-tempered executive out there, consider: Everyone needs that dose of steadiness for the chaotic business world we live in. Keeping a realistic view of the problem at hand and the patience to figure out how all the dots connect is an admirable trait to possess. Who knows? You might have a Voltaire or a Rousseau in your midst.
The takeaway here is this: Don’t dismiss the person sitting in a corner observing rather than talking. His or her powers of observation can save your bacon someday. Also, don’t assume that such people aren't interested in being leaders. They are, but they’re not going to rent a billboard to tell you. The strength of their work will do most of the talking.
You never know where the next Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg will come from. And "introvert" may not be the first word you think of when you think "entrepreneur," but don’t ignore it either. You could be the one missing out on something great.