Damn, I am a Sales Person


I am on this kick lately on introversion vs. extroversion.   Off and on I am working through Susan Cain’s Book, Quiet.  I am an introvert and the topic is very interesting to me as I read more about open and collaborative workplaces and the promise of more networked learning.

Computers, networks and open-work spaces.  Less we forget our humanity.

More to follow on Susan’s book and the impact for our organizations.  Indeed we accomplish more together, yet to leverage the strength of each unique individual lies the promise.  Many of these people are quiet voices with profound contributions ready to be heard.

For today I read an interesting article in the Washington Post called, Why Extroverts Fail, Introverts Flounder and You Probably Succeed.  In the article the author, Daniel Pink, argues that leaders are indeed sales people and share many of the same traits.  Leaders sell.

I invite you to read the article yourself, but in a nutshell the research shows that both extroverts and introverts do not make the best sales people and by extending the argument, not the best leaders.  A  different group called ambiverts do the best. As compared to introverts and extroverts, more people fall into this middle range.

The best way to understand this is to use a 1 to 7 scale with strong introversion being a 1 and strong extroversion being a 7.  The scale is a continuum.  Each of us lies on this scale from 1 to 7.  Ambiverts fill that middle ground say 3, 4, 5.

Ambiverts are not quiet, but they are not loud.  They know how to assert themselves, but they are not pushy.  

Hum, I called myself an introvert earlier and now say that introverts do not make good leaders.   I share this to point out that we need to be careful.  I am a good leader while possessing many introverted traits.  There are great extroverted leaders as well.  One can fall anywhere on this scale and still perform very well as a leader.

While interesting, we have to be careful with conclusions as presented in this article.  We are more than a number on a scale.  I call myself an introvert, but I am more complex than that label.  Introversion is my home, yet I do leave my home and find great joy in working with people each day.    From that place I retreat back to home to re-energize.

Being a leader is not easy.  But I will tell you a secret.  I think you know this one.  Be curious about people.  Get to know them.  Recognize how they are different from you and others on your team.  Find each person’s unique contribution.

Find and welcome the voice.  The voice of each person.

In that we come together and indeed, WeMoveTogether.

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