Are you in introvert?
If you are reading this in a secluded space, away from distractions as you enjoy a cup of coffee in peace and quiet, versus reading it while sitting in an ongoing meeting or on your way to a busy event, chances are you have introversion in your DNA.
While the definition of an introvert varies considerable and depends on where you look or the person you ask, one fact seems to in consistent -- introverts tend to make less money than extroverts over their careers.
As an introvert myself, I can understand this, though I never wanted to admit it. Recently, however, the team at The Indicator, a Planet Money podcast, interviewed Miriam Gensowski, an Assistant Professor of economics at the University of Copenhagen, who in 2018 published a research paper called, "Personality, IQ, and Lifetime Earnings."
In the paper, Dr. Gensowski reviewed data from a famous study that followed hundreds of people from 1921 and 1991. The data included a measure of introversion in the subjects while adolescents, as rated by parents and teachers who knew them well. As these subjects grew up, researchers tracked their earnings throughout adulthood.
What Dr. Gensowski found was that the earnings of extroverts seemed to surpass those of introverts by as much as $500,000 over their careers.
Of course, like any academic study, and especially one that covers a time period that includes radical change societally and technologically, there are problems in the data. For starters, the study only tracked men and seemed to focus on high-IQ individuals in specific parts of the US. Dr. Gensowski points out in the podcast, however, that the outcome "has been replicated in recent years and in many different countries ... where you find very similar effects that the extroverts earn more."
With that said, it is important to understand that these studies do not indicate that extroverts are better at any particular job but rather that they may simply be better at drawing attention to their achievements, which could lead to more promotions, bonuses, and pay raises.
This seems to be supported by data, as Dr. Gensowski points out that earnings differences are greater in older professionals, while there seems to be very little difference in younger adults who are just starting their careers.
Do does this mean that we introverts are destined to take second seat to our extroverted brethren? Of course not, and in fact there are a number of things introverts can do to avoid and even counter these findings.
Embrace the Extroverted World
Introverts are great on their own, so one way to add to our portfolio of skills is to adapt and embrace a few extroverted skills. It makes sense that extroverted behaviors have benefits, and whether you are trying to get noticed at work or to build visibility for a new startup, you have to put yourself out in full display -- and often.
This does not imply you need to be extroverted, only that you can embrace just a few of the characteristics needed to do this, such as networking like an extrovert.
Leverage Your Strengths
I realize that suggesting that introverts become more extroverted is like telling a fish to live on land from time to time. So if you are less inclined to dabble in extroversion, make sure that you understand your strengths -- and indeed seeing your introversion as such -- and are pursue careers in which you can leverage them appropriately.
One great book to consider is StrengthsFinder 2.0, by Gallup. With the book, you can take an intensive 45 minute online personality test which provides you with your top five strengths and tips to leverage them in your career.
Add Extroverts to Your Team
For entrepreneurs, being introverted can make building a business painful, especially in terms of the mental energy needed. For this reasons, it helps having people on your team who can handle the grueling duties of handling public relations, team building and important networking tasks needed to successfully grow a company.
To be clear, I do not believe nor will I ever advocate that introverts should not lead teams, because introverts have many amazing leadership traits that can and should be considered when assembling a leadership team. This goes for employers as well, who may tend to notice the extroverted team members while overlooking the quiet, steady and reliable style of their most productive and effective introverts.
Are you an introvert? What tips can you offer other introverts looking for ways to succeed in today's extroverted world? Share your tips with me on Facebook.