People Don't Quit Their Jobs, They Quit Their Bosses

Be Aware of the Annoying Extrovert Inside You

There’s always one or two of “those guys” that blast open the door and make their presence known.  You are either happy about their company or annoyed by their disruption.  Either way, they will assure you that they are all present and accounted for.  Certainly, they don’t mean to be annoying to anyone; it’s a product of their early nurturing and aspects of their genetic temperament.  We call them extroverts.  By definition—extroverts have this outgoing, vibrant nature that draws people to them, and they have a hard time turning away the attention. They thrive off the interaction and get their energy supply from it.

This is an extremely interesting topic.  I was challenged by several readers to write about extroverts because apparently introverts are targeted in professional discussions of leadership far too frequently because they are apparently easy prey.   There are far more studies on introversion than its obverse.  I have to admit, it was a blind spot for me.  And in full transparency, I am 58% introverted myself, with respect to the MBTI framework.  You’ll be surprised to discover that 51% of the American population that took the MBTI survey were extroverts.  I would have thought it was much higher than that.

If you are like me, when you think of extroverts, your mind immediately pictures lions, comedians, or that overly talkative family member, friend, or co-worker.  You think about the things they do, especially how they seem to strike up conversations with just about anyone.  But you also think of how obnoxious some can be.  How they break social structural rules unapologetically or maybe even unconsciously.  This can all be easily explained.  Extroverts have broad, social associations but they tend to be superficial.  They are fueled by having people around, regardless of how closely tied. From an introvert point of view, that can be a polar opposite locus.  Because, of course, introverts have narrower social connections but those bonds tend to be deeply rooted.  Do you see how, from a different view, that can be awkward?

Now, when you start talking about leadership, then the focus shifts to quality engagement when it comes to workers juxtaposed to how leaders get their source of energy.  That’s complicated just thinking about it.  I have to admit, I’ve seen them all and warned some against their forward personalities.   Because if you are on the extremes of the spectrum, you may find some unknowingly avoiding you.   Your goal is to have advanced social skills which means you have to moderate your personality to get them comfortably on your team.  If they are annoyed by your personality type, their commitment and performance levels will surely plateau.

Here are my 3 annoying extrovert behaviors that can impact the team:

1.  Want to be the center of attention

Extroverts have a tendency to be the “life of the party.” Being the life of the party is not confined to their personal lives.  If placed in the position of authority, a leader that doesn’t have this level of awareness could be an unbelievable distraction.  As much as the leader is expected to be the motivational nexus, they also play a huge, supportive, and empowering role to credit their people for their successes and take responsibility for their failures.  Leaders have to know they star in a supportive role now.  Their people are the main characters.  But when a leader shines the spotlight on themselves or takes responsibility for unearned success, it can be incredibly off-putting.

2. Can take things personally

Extroverts have this tendency to be surprisingly emotional.  Not surprising that they express emotions, of course, but that they can feel your emotions.  That’s the good part.  When the two connect, levels of oxytocin, the feel-good brain chemical, produce for both the leader and follower.  From a leadership perspective, it is a tremendous quality of the extroverted leader.  But it’s the unbridled expression of emotions from taking things personally that becomes annoying.  Leaders that easily take things personally can also easily break the trust between them and their team.  It’s important for them to respond in a productive way that benefits resolution and, more importantly, sustain the trust. The problem—this emotional overflow is a blind spot for them.  They tend to not know that their personality outburst is aggravating within their circle.

3. Treat everyone like extroverts

Probably the most annoying aspect of an extrovert is that they treat others as extroverts.  And since 49% of the population are introverts, you can see how this is problematic.  Communicating, co-working, and definitely leading others with an opposing personality base as if you share an energy source is an unconscious oversight.  It’s critical that extroverts take inventory of their influential space because engagement and understanding the organizational climate is their top priority.  People need to be valued for their strengths and it is incumbent on the leader to recognize them.  This is when self-awareness needs to be on 10.  When it’s not, it can be increasingly annoying.

Whether it’s introversion or extroversion, neither are good nor bad.  It’s all about raising your awareness when you wear the leadership badge.  I’ll make the case that extroverts have a tremendous upside when it comes to leading people.  They are engaging, risk-takers, and motivational.  They can be the catalyst to their followers’ oxytocin production.  That alone can shift performance up-and-to-the-right.  Like lions, they can rally their pack and strategize their objectives with a tremendous following.  But here’s the thing—they just have to realize everyone in their pack is not a lion.


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