Whether Extrovert or Introvert - There’s Risk from ChangeDwight Mihalicz in his Workshop on Management Effectiveness includes practical, recognizable operating models and structures. Examples demonstrate that different industries have different tolerances for different risks. Amongst all the models, the ‘ah ha’ for me was: It is cultural congruence that retains, rewards and promotes staff consistent with their success in an industry’s ‘as is’ operating environment. There are cumulative reasons for practices and processes, both formal and informal.

This insight is an example of becoming better aware of some of the underlying variables applying to the utilization and development of one’s abilities and skills. This mix is made more complex by the diversity of personalities. Francesca Gino’s ‘Introverts, Extroverts, and the Complexities of Team Dynamics’ published in HBR(1) describes the findings from research into the differences amongst Extroverts and Introverts, in team leadership roles:

  • “Team Leaders who are extroverted can be highly effective leaders when the members of their team are dutiful followers looking for guidance from above. Extroverts bring the vision, assertiveness, energy, and networks necessary to give them direction.”
  • “By contrast, when team members are proactive — and take the initiative to introduce changes, champion new visions, and promote better strategies — it is introverted leaders who have the advantage.”

Everyone knows the importance of developing a list of self-imposed milestones and tasks for the first hundred days. Added are the deliverables prioritized during interviews, on-boarding and the initial tranche of objective setting. Beyond all of that, how is Francesca Gino’s research (together with Adam Grant of Wharton and Dave Hofmann of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) instructive in the context of ‘Risk from Change’? Particularly for one seeking (or promoted into) their first Management and Leadership(2) role.

During the interview cycle, a prospective Manager might increase learning and lessen risk by asking:

  1. What’s the proportion of Extroverts and Introverts amongst my peers and my staff?
  2. What’s the link between the mix of personalities and the culture and operating model?
  3. What are the benefits from this ‘as is’ state to the organization and its’ stakeholders?

With this understanding, the prospective Manager will be better aware of being one amongst many or an outsider, and weigh for themselves any potential risk.

Your Team (new to ‘you’ as their Manager but not ‘new’ to being managed within the organization and its’ culture) have skills and ways of working both as individuals and amongst themselves that are unchanged in the moment. At the point of transition from one Manager to another, you are their ‘change’.

A difference between your personality type and your predecessor’s can add to ‘Risk from Change’ during transition and beyond. Questions by a new Manager add to awareness:

About your Team

  • How do you orient your Team to the differences?
  • What must you do to be self-aware of the differences?
  • In what ways, did your predecessor’s personality type magnify or mask your Team’s abilities and development needs?

About yourself joining the Management Team

  • Which of your Management peers share your personality type and which differ?
  • What’s the effect on and risk to achieving your objectives if your personality type differs from your predecessor’s?

For disclosure… I’m an Introvert and I was challenged by my first Management role. Never once having thought about ‘Risk from Change’. Looking back, I realize that my predecessor was an Extrovert and astonishingly adept at being personable with the Team’s diverse personalities, leading or pushing each individual every day and then reversing when extra effort was needed. The result was a happy, productive Team; one with constant capabilities from established expertise. Prior to my promotion I was in a staff role, a Subject Matter Expert ordering things into sequences. Which yielded a different understanding of Management. I’d thought that work followed from direction. A new direction returned me to a staff role.

In a different organization, in a role requiring different abilities, I became a competent manager. We were all attracted by the combination of culture and accountabilities; invested in expanding the adoption of a technology across an industry. I developed my Introvert qualities (‘logistics’ is a core competence for an ISTJ) in a mandate that required constant brokering of virtual Teams’ skills and availabilities amongst Management and Sales, Customers and Prospects, Suppliers and Trades. Enabling the experts achieved the best outcomes. I’d learned the ‘how to’ of successful Leadership.

For the new Manager, identifying and understanding ‘Risk from Change’ includes being aware of the many types of differences around you. Including between the Extroverts and Introverts you lead and work alongside. Look both ways when crossing into a new Management role: Look first at yourself as you measure against your predecessor and look too at your leader, your peers and your Team. Think about their existing circumstances, their track-record and how, for everyone’s benefit, to wisely introduce change, enable progress and achieve success.


    1. Source: https://hbr.org/2015/03/introverts-extroverts-and-the-complexities-of-team-dynamics
    2. Management and Leadership as defined by Grace Hopper: ‘You manage things, you lead people’. Manager and Management, as I employ the terms, is inclusive of Management and Leadership.