Could You Be An Ambivert?
By Thom Dennis, CEO at Serenity in Leadership
If you are an ambivert you are likely to possess a mix of both extroverted and introverted traits and you will be able to adapt your behaviour to different situations which may very well, make you an ideal candidate for a variety of roles and a future leader. The question is, should everyone aspire to be an ambivert and is this a skill set that can be learned by anyone?
Extroversion and introversion can be measured through various tests and assessments. A YouGov study found that 50% of Britons consider themselves introverted, with 9% describing themselves as "very introverted." Men were slightly more likely than women to describe themselves as introverted (53% versus 48%). There is no universally accepted definition of ambiversion, or a standard measurement tool, which makes it difficult to determine the number of ambiverts in the population. Additionally, individuals can exhibit varying degrees of introverted and extroverted tendencies, making categorisation a challenge.
WHAT DO AMBIVERTS VS EXTROVERTS OR INTROVERTS BRING TO THE WORKPLACE?
Traditionally, personality traits have been assessed on a spectrum between introversion and extroversion, with individuals appearing somewhere along this range. Ambiverts are individuals who can adapt to different situations, enjoy both socialising and being alone, know when to listen and when to speak, and can use different communication methods effectively. They are known for their flexibility in their actions. Some famous people believed to be or have been ambiverts include Mahatma Gandhi, Oprah Winfrey and Barack Obama.
Extroverts by contrast, often feel energised after socialising, make quick decisions, take risks for success, possess strong communication skills, and build relationships easily. They are known for their confidence, charisma, energy, and organisational skills, and enjoy collaborating and leading. Famous extroverts include Tony Blair, Arianna Huffington, Whitney Wolfe Herd, Winston Churchill and Richard Branson.
Introverts, on the other hand, tend to learn through observation, possess strong listening skills, and think before acting or making decisions. They are often creative collaborators, attentive listeners with great attention to detail, and feel energised after spending time alone or in small groups. High-profile introverts include Mark Zuckerburg, Emma Watson, Bill Gates, Malala Yousafzai and Eleanor Roosevelt.
DO AMBIVERTS HAVE A REAL ADVANTAGE?
Ambiverts, possessing a combination of extroverted and introverted traits, can excel in various fields, including sales, leadership, and negotiation.
Professor of Psychology Adam Grant at University of Pennsylvania studied The Ambivert Advantage and found that ambiverts can be extremely productive and effective in the workplace due to their flexible communication style. They can assertively persuade and close sales while also listening to customers' interests, avoiding appearing overconfident. Grant's research refutes the notion that extroverts are more successful, as the worst performers in sales are those who are extremely introverted or extremely extroverted. He developed The Ambiversion Scale to assess an individual's socialising preferences through 14 statements such as "I like to mix with people, but also need time to myself" and "I'm equally comfortable in quiet and loud environments."
Individuals can cultivate ambivert skills through practice, learning from introvert and extrovert role models, and developing social skills, confidence, and assertiveness. However, it's crucial not to exhaust ourselves by trying to master all traits simultaneously and to find a balance between socialising, working and taking time to recharge.
THE EFFECT OF THE PANDEMIC
The pandemic might have provided an opportunity for ambiverts to demonstrate their strengths in the workplace. The crisis demanded leaders to leverage both extroverted and introverted qualities. On one hand, managers had to display visible enthusiasm to motivate and steer their team through uncertainty. On the other, they also had to actively listen and solicit feedback to create a flexible and empathetic work environment for their employees.
WHAT CAN BUSINESSES DO TO NURTURE THE TALENTS OF ALL PERSONALITY TYPES?
Ensure that your team is diverse in terms of introverts, extroverts, and ambiverts to benefit from good interpersonal communication, creativity, emotional intelligence, and productivity.
Recognise that visibility is not a measure of productivity or engagement. Aim to bring out the best in all employees, and make sure that everyone has a chance to share and use their preferred communication style.
Be aware of your biases and avoid assuming that quieter employees have no interest in taking on leadership responsibilities. Provide equal opportunities for everyone to lead and collaborate.
Be mindful of how you reward your employees and ensure that rewards are meaningful and varied, including private conversations, email messages, and public recognition.
Avoid relying solely on team meetings for communication. Some employees may prefer one-to-one or small group conversations, or they may need more time to prepare. Allow space for your quieter employees and invite them to share their thoughts in a few days.
Embrace cultural intelligence (CQ), because it enables good business decisions and an understanding of how attitudes and beliefs influence them.
Prioritise employees' well-being and ensure an inclusive, positive culture that enables everyone to work with flexibility and in a way that suits them. Encourage your people to contribute their ideas, regardless of their communication style or personality type.