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Five ways to maximise the strengths of introverted team members

Construction meeting (Image: Dreamstime)
Image: Dreamstime
With the right support, introverts have strengths that can make them a crucial part of your construction team. Business consultant and leadership coach Leo Aspden explains.

When you think of the term ‘introvert’, you don’t often associate it with outstanding leadership or critical business contributions. Yet, whether you run large or small projects, it is almost certain that you will have introverts on your team. They can be the backbone of a successful business, a great asset to effective project delivery and excellent team leaders.

Just look at Bill Gates, a businessman who is undoubtedly a brilliant leader. So clearly, introverts do have the potential: it’s just a case of unlocking it, which can be done through effective coaching.

Here are five ways to maximise your introverted team members’ strengths: 

1) Give introverts the freedom to express their ideas

Introverts are more readily willing to give colleagues the freedom to share ideas. While extroverts are well-meaning, they can sometimes overshadow other team members. They often get excited or carried away with an idea.

This doesn’t mean extroverts are a bad influence or poor team leaders, it’s just more likely that introverts will invite colleagues, including other introverts, to share their ideas, knowing the benefits they can bring to a team. This is why you are more likely to find introverted leaders in the creative industries such as design and architecture. 

2) Learn from introverts – the power of listening

In a world full of noise, introverts have an innate ability to sit back and assess a situation. They provide valuable contributions when they see fit, and not just to be seen speaking. I’ve sat in countless team meetings where the same couple of people demand all the conversation and overpower the entire room. It usually does more harm than good.

Extrovert leaders can often be guilty of doing all the talking and less listening. In contrast, good leaders allow their teams and individuals to express their ideas. They know that giving them the freedom to do so sparks creativity, ensuring that the best outcomes are not overlooked.

“Introverts are often known for keeping their cool in stressful situations. And they can bring the focus back to situations when other people have become excited, stressed, or have lost focus.”

In addition, listening equals learning, so introverts constantly learn and improve by sitting quiet and absorbing what other people are saying.

3) Consult them when solutions seem hidden

Introverts often make more calculated decisions. They are known for their in-depth preparation – you will never find one turning up to a meeting ill-prepared and relying on coming up with on-the-spot suggestions. By weighing up the pros and cons, introverts tend to come up with more considered decisions.

Introverts are also known for their ability to find solutions that aren’t apparent at first glance. And they are also more open to hearing and considering information with which they might not necessarily agree. Wise team leaders will consult with introverts for creative solutions when options seem blocked or limited.

4) Ensure that they are a key part of each team

Having several introverts working among a team of extroverts can make for a much calmer dynamic. That’s especially true in pressurised situations or on time-critical projects. While the inclusion of excitable extroverts keeps the team mood high, introverts can balance this by creating a peaceful, calming atmosphere where colleagues feel safe and accepted to be creative and share their ideas.

Introverts are often known for keeping their cool in stressful situations. And they can bring the focus back to situations when other people have become excited, stressed, or have lost focus.

5) Allow time for solo work or working remotely

Introverts don’t mind working in solitude. We have experienced the need to adapt to periods of remote and hybrid working throughout the pandemic. This may have been a daunting prospect for extroverts and people who don’t like spending time alone. However, introverts can often comfortably work alone and achieve more because of this.

People often cite working with others in a team as a number one requirement when joining a business. However, you shouldn’t overlook the ability to work alone: being in solitude offers introverts time for self-reflection, planning, thinking, and creating.

In reality, businesses need both introverts and extroverts to make teams effective, and with the correct development, leadership and coaching, companies can have the best of both worlds.

Leo Aspden is a high growth business consultant and leadership coach with more than 30 years’ experience of working with businesses in the construction sector in coaching, leadership development, business strategy and marketing.

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