By Allison O’Connor, TRUST President
A lot of people assume the best leaders must be classic extroverts. Surely extroverted, energetic people who thrive on interaction with others and seem to pull others in effortlessly must be the best leaders, right?
The truth is anyone can be a leader, and introverts have the same ability to succeed in leadership as extroverts do. Most of us are somewhere on a spectrum between the two ends we typically define as introverted or extroverted. You may be an introverted extrovert or an extroverted introvert.
Psychologist Carl Jung first described these personalities in the 1920s.* Jung said the difference between the two was centered squarely on where people found their energy. Extroverts tend to power up through their interactions with the world, often seeking multiple engagements each week in locations with large groups of people. Introverts often recharge quietly, needing time alone at home or through less frequent restrained interactions with fewer people.
Again, it’s not as simple as saying you’re either an introvert or an extrovert. I’m often assumed to be an extrovert because of my high energy and excitement when I meet people or am around a great group of people. I love to meet women through the TRUST as each interaction feeds my soul in different ways. However, I’m definitely an introvert who requires recharging and the balance of quiet time alone. Perhaps I’m more of an extroverted introvert?
How does all of this help us grow and evolve as leaders? If we recognize what energizes us, we can use that to our advantage, no matter our personality style. And we can stretch and lean into things a bit out of our comfort zone!
Introverts tend to be excellent listeners! You can leverage that skill to showcase empathetic leadership. If you want to grow as an introverted leader, you may need to be vigilant about speaking up in meetings to avoid being out-talked and leave breathing room in your schedule to recharge.
Extroverts often more readily take risks and drive conversations. To grow as an extroverted leader, you may need to remember to take a step back and open the floor to others. And be sure to give time to your quiet team members in a way that can energize you and them.
There is no right way to lead; however, we can always continue to grow. No matter where you are on the introvert-extrovert spectrum, the Women’s Health Leadership TRUST can help you build your professional development and networking – at your pace!
Allison O’Connor serves as the 2022 TRUST President and is Vice President of Strategy Execution at Lifespark. Allison has also held roles as Board Chair with the American College of Healthcare Executives Minnesota Chapter and Minnesota Rural Health Association, Vice-Chair with Cedar Riverside People’s Center and is a current Board member with American Red Cross North Central Blood Services North Region.