Introverted individuals make for 30-50% of the workforce. But since, characteristically, they prefer to stay away from the limelight, it’s very easy to underrate or sideline them. In the international bestseller Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, author Susan Cain claims that only a few aspects of today’s culture favour the introvert, especially in the workplace. While the bold and outspoken grab eyeballs and get applauded by peers and managers, the shy and quiet ones are unfortunately neglected. They often attract questions: Why isn’t he vocal in team meetings? Why does he remain quiet most of the time? Is he not happy? Is he not doing his work properly? Is he not enjoying his work?, etc.
It’s only their demeanour that makes them misunderstood. Yes, they may not blossom in a crowd of boisterous employees. They may not network or take risks as effectively as their celebrated extroverted counterparts. In an organization with a large number of non-desk employees, the percentage of introverted employees can be quite high. Mostly because, historically, they have been sidelined due to their silence, kept out of loop of team conversations, and not encouraged much. So they naturally feel awkward getting into a meeting or conversation with their desk counterparts.
But given the apt space, time, and conditions, introverts have the potential to work productively very much like the rest. In no way are they an impediment to the organization. In reality, introverts are highly creative, focused, committed, trusted, and observant. They make for great problem-solvers and decision-makers. In fact, in some cases, they are a notch higher than extroverts. A research shows that companies headed by introverted CEOs outperform those headed by extroverted ones. Some introverted but highly successful business leaders include Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Warren Buffet, Tim Cook, etc.
To tap the unique potential of introverts, they have to be identified and understood first. Once that’s done, a tweak in the employee management strategy is required to get the best out of them.