How do we harness the power of introverts?
Google is not everybody’s favourite company but it has revolutionised the way we search for ‘things’ on the internet and the company’s progression is fuelled by innovative thinking. The search engine gives staff free time to develop their own ideas for the business, and many of the Google updates and additions have been driven from employee free time. It is therefore interesting that Larry Page, co-founder of Google, is seen to have an introvert preference as defined by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and Insights Discovery Those with an introvert preference tend to prefer working alone or in small groups and introverts generally spend time thinking and reflecting before ‘doing’. Perhaps this explains why Page is so keen on coaxing ideas from his workforce and promoting the development of emotional intelligence throughout the business. Another Google employee with a preference for introversion, Chade-Meng Tan, explains this in his book Search Inside Yourself.
Harnessing the power of those with a more introverted preference requires a careful strategy, and while Google and other forward-thinking businesses are leading the way, sadly, according to another author, often these individuals are ignored. In her latest book, The Power of Introverts
, American writer and lecturer Susan Cain warns that leaders who underestimate those with an introverted preference do so at their peril, and having provided feedback on countless Myers-Briggs Type Indicator profiles, I tend to agree.
What better way to prove a point than to identify a few famous figures who are all associated with being an introvert type…
First man to land on the moon, this driven and pioneering man managed to complete the journey that many said was impossible. Imagine unleashing the focus and energy of someone like Armstrong in your organisation? What kind of impact could someone with his strength of character and infallible focus have on the rest of the workforce?
This year Buffet was names in Time magazine among the most influential people in the world, yet he’s an introvert. Clearly driven by success and wealth, Buffet is widely known for his investment skills and knowledge. Another example of an introvert that would be welcome in the leadership team of any organisation.
A deep thinker who revolutionised physics with his theory of general relativity. Einstein died half a century ago but will always be remembered for his incredible desire to defy popular scientific belief and find an alternative way for physics to progress.
The responsibility falls on the shoulders of business leaders to ensure that they are getting the very best from their employees.
And, while it may be easy to categorise someone as quiet, not interested in putting ideas forward or getting involved in large group discussions, there is a good chance that individual could offer far more within a more conducive environment.