By Naphtali Hoff, smartblogs.com
About 10 years ago, I was participating in a leadership program with area principals and other organizational leaders. As part of the training, we were instructed to undergo a 360-degree assessment. There were many revelations for me from that process, including important feedback about how others viewed my leadership capacity. But one insight that has remained with me the most had to do with our groupas a whole.
The consultant who processed the data told us something that surprised me quite a bit at the time. Our group was comprised of communal leaders, people who oversaw many others and interacted routinely with tens if not hundreds of people each day. When he reached the area of extroversion and introversion (terms used by C. G. Jung to explain different attitudes people use to direct their energy), I was not expecting to hear that our group was collectively skewed towards introversion.
My surprise emanated from a simple misconception. I had associated introversion with shyness and perhaps even quietness. I figured that a person who is in constant communication could not possibly be an introvert. But I was wrong.
The reality is that introversion has little to do with our levels of social comfort or verbosity. Rather, it reflects on our energy source. Extroverts are people who gain their energy from others. They walk into a room and feel energized, feeding off of the collective energy as they navigate through the crowd. They seek others’ company and feel somehow incomplete if they are left in isolation for too long.
Introverts, in contrast, gain their energy from quiet, private time. They love to think and reflect privately, with the door closed, and enter into public settings out of necessity rather than preference. While many introverts can be described as quiet, introverts are more than capable of speaking and engaging as circumstances dictate. It’s more about their preferences and inclinations rather than their disposition or capacity.
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