Introverts and extroverts at work

The term introvert or extrovert  is often used inaccurately.

Extroversion NOT relates to how outgoing someone is.
Introversion is NOT the same as being shy.

The terms introvert and extrovert were defined by psychologist Carl Jund in the early 20th century and are the base for the well known MBTI personality type indicators. Carl Jung argued the extroverts are classified that way because that is how they behave most – not all – of the time. In truth, the majority of people score somewhere in the middle (are ambiverts), and have some manifestations of extroversion or introversion some of the time.

Introverts (or those of us with introverted tendencies) tend to recharge by spending time alone. They lose energy from being around people for long periods of time, particularly large crowds. Susan Cain defines introverts as “men of contemplation,” who may enjoy the company of others, but are also comfortable with solitude. They are sensitive, contemplative, modest and calm, and spend a lot of time thinking and reflecting.  They do their best work alone in quiet places.

Extroverts, on the other hand, gain energy from other people. Extroverts are “men of action”, actually find their energy is sapped when they spend too much time alone.  They gain energy from other people, are sociable, excitable and light-hearted. Unlike introverts, extroverts can tolerate a higher level of noise and work well collaboratively.


Studies published by Medical Daily, show that we may look for similarity when choosing friends, partners, when we hire people, when we select leaders.  We have the tendency to like people who are just like us, and this can be dangerous in a organization. Why? According to Quiet Leader, here are some data (for U.S.) you can’t afford to ignore.


96% of the leaders self- identify as Extroverts.
50% workers that self-identify as Introverts.

All this extrovert leaders will prefer the extrovert workers?! Can you afford to not promote diversity and to keep under -utilizing your most important resource: your people?

Let’s understand each other better have a look to introverts and extroverts strengths which can make a diverse team.



Top 3 introverts strengths:

  • Flow. Have focused for long time period. Introverts have more time by themselves, which gives them ample opportunity to develop expert skills (such as playing an instrument or programming), as Csikszentmihalyi argues in his book “Flow”. They can find flow and they can stay in the flow for long time.
  • Good and calm listeners. Introverts are world-class listeners. In a conversation they assure that everyone is heard equally and people are very rarely interrupted. They can stay calm in difficult situations, during the crises and they can make good analyses in order to take take the best decisions. 
  • Quality vs Quantity (or Depth vs. Breadth). Introverts are self-reflectiveness and error-correction and they always want to improve everything (including self – improvements). They value quality on everything instead of quantities: quality time, quality friends, quality output of their work.

Famous introverts: Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, Frederic Chopin, JK Rowlin, Elon Musk, Steve Wozniak, Warren Buffett, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page and many others.

Top 3 extroverts strengths:

  • Networking. Extroverts are very outgoing and are usually motivated to attend social gatherings and mingle with new people exposing themselves to a variety of social interactions,  this may explain why extroverts usually have a large number of acquaintances.
  • Entertainment and charisma. Extroverts do not get easily bored. They have something or the other to share every time. Therefore, they also keep everybody around them entertained. They are always the center of attraction and enjoy being in the limelight. People have fun in their company and want to be like them.
  • Risks. Extroverts live a life of risk and reward. Embracing risk isn’t always a good thing, but it has its advantages. Sometime not taking a risk, we can run a bigger risk of being left behind.

Famous extroverts: Steve Jobs, Muhammad Ali, George W. Bush, Boris Yeltsin, Donald Trump, Oprah Winfrey, Sir Richard Branson and many others.  

One of the best points of Quiet (by Susan Cain) is how much introverts and extroverts can benefit from each other and how they often work well together in teams. The most famous team is Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. Steve Jobs is the classic extrovert salesman. On the other hand, Steve Wozniak, is the quiet “nerd soul”. Without either half of this partnership, the world would certainly be different today.

It’s pretty much certain that we’re going to come in contact with a variety of personalities throughout our lives, from extreme introverts to extreme extroverts, and everyone in-between. Understanding the differences between these tendencies can help us to get along with others and get the best out of everyone.