Twentieth-century Americans were bottle-fed on the importance of needing to "prove themselves." Extroverts, with their brash and gregarious manner, were the golden children. They excelled as intense, borderline manic individuals showcasing their charm and charisma, Wolf of Wall Street-style. Loud, proud, and ready to get things done, it was their time to shine.
As you can imagine, introverts weren't too thrilled. However, just as Mufasa predicted in The Lion King, the sun has set on their time, and is now rising again, with introverts as the new kings.
It's time to bow before the introverts reading in the corner. Why?
1. Introverts are superior storytellers.
"Storytelling" is a hot topic these days, and introverts are old pros at telling a yarn. More reflective and thoughtful by nature, introverts are often skilled writers and content creators, making them golden geese in our current age, which prizes top-notch content. J.K. Rowling, Abraham Lincoln, and even Dr. Suess are believed to be (or have been, in their time on earth) introverts. Rock on lone wolves!
2. Introverts are better listeners.
Introverts are more quiet and contemplative than their extrovert opposites, earning them an A+ for listening skills. While the ability to "listen" may seem unremarkable (Siri can listen too), being able to listen, analyze, and act is extremely valuable in the digital age, as brands seek to engage in meaningful dialogue with consumers.
Social media allows for consumers to voice their opinions and potentially engage in creative collaboration with brands. However, this partnership between consumer and brand can happen only when businesses are willing to listen, and listen well. Much of modern marketing is about fostering sincere, authentic dialogue. Extroverts... Well, bless their hearts, but their unrelenting exuberance can often result in one-way dialogues that fail to take into account consumer feedback.
3. Introverts feel at home online.
It's not hard to spot an introvert--they are the ones reading a book in the corner at a party, or ordering a stack of frozen Celeste Pizza for One at Shaws.
Introverts aren't crazy about crowds, many preferring the warmth and safety of the online cocoon. And why not? There's endless amounts of learning and communication happening on the Web, and it's as good a place as any other to pass leisure time. As a result of ample online hours, introverts tend to be naturals when it comes to all things tech--they make great online marketers, social media managers, etc.
4. They aren't ball hogs.
The overbearing presence of extroverts can stifle creative energy--in a room full of loud chatterers, an introvert will have a hard time speaking up, even when they are holding an ace idea up their sleeve. Extroverts like to run the show, and can inadvertently overshadow other team members. Introverts, on the other hand, have no problem collaborating.
5. Introverts make better bosses.
Researcher Adam Grant found that introvert leaders tend to deliver better results than extroverts because they tend to give employees a longer leash, letting them run with their ideas and see where their hunches take them. Extroverts, while well intentioned, are often so excited about their own projects and ideas that they steamroll other team members in the process.
6. They're more social than you think.
Let's be clear--introverts aren't shy or antisocial. Being shy reflects fear of social judgment. Being introverted really has to do with how you respond to stimulation.
Extroverts gain energy from social stimulation and activity. Introverts, while often enjoying social activities and engagements as much as anyone else, need periods of solitude to recover. Introverts focus best and are most productive in quiet environments. While they treasure alone time, introverts enjoy spending time socializing with friends as much as any extrovert.
7. A lonely heart makes for more creativity.
The majority of history's most creative individuals are what we would categorize as introverts. Why? Because solitude is often an essential ingredient for fostering creativity. Great thinkers like Darwin or Thoreau would take long walks in the woods, or even retreat from society entirely for great lengths of time. Introverts need their periods of isolation to recharge their batteries, and it is in those quiet moments that inspiration often strikes.
Creativity is a valuable asset these days, which means introverts are in high demand. Next time your creative team wants to do a team-building exercise, encourage them to go camping in the Mojave Desert. Send them on their way with a jug of water and a fond farewell. All right, that may be pushing it, but don't be afraid to let introverts work their creative mojo. Not every genius idea comes from brainstorming.
So extroverts are useless wastes of space?
Absolutely. They're also to blame for global warming. Just kidding--of course extroverts are important, too! They make fantastic presenters, are incredible networkers, and will probably perform better in a meeting with clients than introverts.
I'm certainly not trying to hate on extroverts. I'm simply suggesting that it's time to rethink the qualities we value in business. The tendency has been to favor the boisterous, loud, whirlwind energy of extroverts. Instead, we need to take into account those introverted underdogs. They are the ones, with their thoughtfulness and creativity, who we'll see pulling the strings in our increasingly more digital-oriented age, the one in which they were born to rule.