And according to a new book by author Susan Cain, ‘Quiet: The Power of Introverts In a World That Can’t Stop Talking’, my suspicions are well-founded.
Ms. Cain postulates that our extrovert-centric Western corporate culture dates back to the shift from agriculture to industry and big business. That shift saw movement away from a ‘culture of character’ to a ‘culture of personality’—and I for one am very sorry that that’s the case.
Because—in my opinion—this bias towards extroverts has a negative impact on business performance. It means that value is placed on a person’s ability to sell themselves, to be more vocal and more gregarious. None of which has a relationship with the extent to which that person is able to think and to lead thoughtfully.
‘Extroversion has nothing to do with emotional intelligence or competence,’ says Susan Cain. She also argues that ‘… introverts are not necessarily shy or anti-social, they just prefer environments that are not over-stimulating and get their energy from quiet time and reflection’.
I would suggest that we have all been extraordinarily conditioned to the cult of the extrovert. Look, for example, at the way in which open plan offices dominate. I know of at least one introvert who found the move from having his own office to an open plan office absolute torture. His job performance went downhill as a result—and no doubt his annual appraisal commented on his lack of adaptability.
Look too at how managers lionize sports-mad, wise-cracking, meeting-dominating extroverts and hold their behavior up as ‘best practice’.
The phrase ‘It takes all sorts to make a world’ should be just as true of corporate life as it is generally.
Tags: absolute torture all sorts bias business performance competence corporate culture cult emotional intelligence environments extrovert introvert introverts negative impact no doubt personality postulates quiet time reflection suspicions whip