The Benefits of Introverts in the Workplace
The workplace is filled with a variety of personalities. Chances are than in your own workplace, no two people are completely the same. We human beings operate on such a wide spectrum of temperaments informed by our worldview, past experiences, comfort level, and thinking methods—and those are just some of the things that make up how we show up in the world.
Usually, when someone talks about personality, you’ll hear two words in particular: introversion and extraversion.
Simply put, introverts are people who are energized by spending time alone, while extraverts are people who are energized by spending time with others.
Unfortunately, introversion is often seen as a weakness in the workplace. There’s an enduring myth that introverts can’t be team players because of their reserved nature, or that their introspection isn’t conducive to team vision-casting where ideas are tossed around in rapid-fire discussions that might overwhelm an introvert.
However, there are actually benefits to having introverted employees in the workplace.
Here are 3 of them:
Introverts are often incredibly innovative
Many of the most successful business leaders in the world today are introverts: Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Warren Buffet, Elon Musk. And that’s not including the great minds from other fields such as science and math, where people like Albert Einstein and Issac Newton were also introverted. All this to say that introverts are often incredibly innovative individuals.
This may be because of their love for introspection. Introverts enjoy solitude for the simple fact that it allows them to be alone with their thoughts, and when they access their innermost thoughts, creativity naturally blossoms and helps them develop new ideas and solutions. While your introverted employees may not fight to make their voices head in the next team meeting, you can be sure they’ll be thinking over all the topics that were raised for days to come and generating innovative solutions that would’ve only come to them in solitude. Give an introvert a workplace problem to gnaw on for a while, and then circle back to them to hear their ideas. You may just be surprised by their creativity.
Introverts can be detail-oriented
This particularly applies to introverts with a sensing preference (the IS types in the Myer-Briggs model). Introverts notice the little things. They have rich imaginations and inner worlds, but it doesn’t coming at the cost of observing the world around them. In fact, introverts tend to process greater volumes of information in any given situation than their extraverted counterparts.
This particularly comes in handy in two ways. First of all, it helps with emotional intelligence. Indeed, noticing social subtleties comes naturally to introverts with a feeling preference. These introverts can easily tell when there’s an emotional shift between people, and because they’re empathetic, they’ll do what they can to help mediate the situation and find common ground before the boat’s rocked.
On the flip side, introverts with the thinking preference are excellent at seeing risk. They’re analytical and can easily envision all the potential pitfalls and challenges of a certain decision. Their input can mean the difference between your team pursuing a losing or winning project.
Introverts can excel at focus, concentration, and working independently
Need your team to keep their nose to the grindstone in order to meet a deadline? You won’t have to worry about introverts losing their focus if you have an introvert on the team with a judging preference. Because they’re so accustomed to solitude, they know how to tune out the world in order to get work done. Their ability to be laser focused is unparalleled, which comes in handy for any task that requires extended periods of concentration.
And because of their independent nature, introverts rarely require any ‘hand holding’. They’re able to get things done on their own with little direction because they thrive on working independently—you could say it’s their natural setting. It’s no wonder remote work is on the rise, and that introverts are dominating the space. Companies are beginning to see the value in outsourcing work to talented, ambitious, and focused work-from-home applicants who do their best work as an individual instead of as a team. Sometimes, it only takes one to get the job done!
An employee’s introversion should never be seen as a disadvantage. Instead, leaders and managers must learn to value the characteristics in employees of all personality types to better understand their strengths and then speak to those strengths. When they do, they’ll not only empower all employees, but they’ll also help employees to become the best version of themselves.