This week was a first – being interviewed on a Google hangout by Ann Hawkins on one of my favourite topics:

“Are introverts or extroverts more successful in business?”

Ann asked some thought provoking questions that pushed me to the brink of revealing the answer!

LAB profiling allows us to listen to what people are saying and how they say it, then use their language patterns to determine what their 14 subconscious motivations are. So are extroverts (happy to go out and sell themselves and their businesses) more likely to succeed, or would introverts and their skills be more successful?

Can we define introverts and extroverts?

Broadly speaking, introverts tend to live a bit more inside their head, don’t need so much external stimulation. Whereas extroverts love to dive into the activity and enjoy getting more feedback.

Let’s delve a little deeper into introversion and extroversion…

In the LAB Profiling world, we tend to break introversion and extroversion down into metaprogrammes – based on the motivational triggers that people have in certain contexts.

An introvert is an internal person; the source of their motivation comes from within! So if you feel you like to gather a lot of info from the outside then run it through your internal reference system and make decisions and judgements based on what you know, you’re more internally referenced.

Someone more external does the same thing. They take information, and then need more information from the outside to make sense of it. In some ways extroverts are more adaptable because of this, as they’re not making judgements based on their internal standards. I like to think of them as solar powered, because the energy is coming from outside them rather than within!

How can you make the most of your own strengths, regardless of whether you’re an introvert or extrovert?

Firstly, understand what triggers your motivations. For example, if you don’t like walking into a room full of people at a networking event because that’s too much stimulation and you find it overwhelming – then there may be a better way for you to do the same thing! Like social media for example, which is a great opportunity to network from the safety and comfort of your own home (or anywhere for that matter).

The key is to understand yourself first. Find your strengths and make the most of them! As with any pattern of behaviour, there are always pros and cons. Embrace them.

Could introverts rule the world?

An article I recently read claimed that introverts make better bosses. In some ways, yes they do. But in other ways, no they don’t! If we think about someone internal, they are usually very good at using their initiative and they don’t need to be told what to do. They are self-starters. Entrepreneurs need to have these qualities! But if they’re too internal they may not be flexible or adaptable to what others are thinking. So there needs to be some external too, so that they can be tuned in to other people.

And it’s the same with managing people. As a manager you need to set guidelines and standards. It’s wonderful if you’re an internal person managing internals – who won’t like you hanging over their shoulder and would prefer to just get on with the job, checking in with you every now and then. But when you get an external employee, who needs a lot of feedback, paired with an internal manager, you often get a problem as they have totally different approaches and needs. But once those two people understand each other and those needs, it’s much easier for them to work cohesively together!

So, what characteristics make us more successful in business, introversion or extroversion?

Why not listen to the whole interview and decide for yourself whether introverts or extroverts are better leaders and more successful in business! And find out what Andy Murray and Maggie Thatcher have in common…

Want to read more? Susan Cain has written an extremely thought-provoking book on the subject which I would highly recommend: “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking”