It is easy to assume that shy people are introverted and loud people are extroverted, but we're learning that it is much more complicated. Why should you care? Introverts and extroverts lead differently. If you don't know what you really are, then you could be minimizing your strengths and emphasizing your weaknesses. It is a deadly combination for entrepreneurship or, really, for any business endeavors.
I've always loved being around people, but I get my energy from alone time. It took years for me to figure out that I was an introvert. Once I did, though, it totally shifted the power I had as both an entrepreneur and as a leader.
Introvert expert Susan Cain just launched a new podcast, Quiet: The Power of Introverts, based on her best-selling book of the same name. In the first episode, she gave three simple questions that can help you identify your style.
1. Imagine you have been at a party that you have enjoyed. You've been there for about 2 hours. How do you feel?
Response: Ready to call it a night? You're likely an introvert. Extroverts will be clamoring for the even more social activity. Extroverts are energized by other people, while introverts are energized by alone time.
How it impacts your business: If you are introvert going into an intense social situation such as a large conference, then you should carve out alone time before and after to make sure you are at maximum strength and can fully engage.
2. Do you tend to think before you speak or do you tend to process your thoughts more out loud?
Response: An introvert needs more time to find the right words. Extroverts talk to work things out in their mind.
How it impacts your business: If you are an introvert, buffer in time to think during major discussions. Try to set the pace of the discussion so you aren't rushed to respond before you are ready.
3. Do you tend to prefer one-on-one conversation or larger group settings?
Response: Being an introvert means preferring one direct, intense connection. Extroverts love the flow of multiple people talking.
How it impacts your business: If you are an introvert, large meetings are probably inefficient and awkward for your company, as are open offices. Facilitate an environment where you can connect with people on a smaller scale.