What makes us who we are?
Have you ever considered; What makes us who we are?
There are many things in life that mould our personalities and craft the way we behave, and its little things in life that we just accept and get on with it.
As an example; From a cultural perspective, open-plan office space fosters collaboration among employees, and encourages those who may in the past have been isolated from co-workers to become more involved. But does an open-plan office policy work for everyone?
Some may view open-plan as an invasion of privacy, unable to concentrate and focus on their work and being counterproductive.
For others, it’s a liberating distraction which they perceive as an injection of fun and banter in the working day… so providing the work gets done, who’s to say which practice is right!
Circumstances vary from business to business and only leaders can decide how they get the best from their employees for the culture and operation to run smoothly.
But… people are very different and from a young age we’re programmed to conform and accommodate to what’s happening in the world around us. It would be boring if we were all the same… So what makes us who we are?
At school we either sat in rows focussing intently on learning or were corralled into groups to interact with others. Irrespective of how we felt, we’d accept the imposition and get on with it.
For many, they could be disinterested with the subject, easily distracted and bored. For others they’d be subliminally irritated as they struggled to concentrate due to constant interference and disruption around them.
So… ask yourself, does this sound familiar? … How many of us felt the same way but had to toe the line and endure the lesson because it was expected of us!
Well… prepare yourself, as many of us are still going through life doing exactly that!
Doing and saying things just to fit in. We do it to progress our careers, cultivate friendships and appease family.
So why does this happen?
The answer is probably embedded deep within our psyche as a hangover from our school days, manifesting itself over years like an invisible entity determining our behaviour as to why we simply accept being the person we are.
…But do you really know the real you?
Have you ever really thought; Where on the spectrum between introvert and extrovert am I?
It’s often said that “Introverts” are perceived smarter as they spend more time inwardly thinking before they offer their ideas and somehow appear to have deeper personalities than extroverts. They prefer calm, less stimulating environments and tend to feel drained after socialising, thus needing to recharge their batteries and find their stimulus by spending time alone.
“Extroverts” on the other hand are often energised and stimulated by the company of others and may have a tendency to speak before they think, sometimes being described as attention-seeking, easily distracted, and unable to spend time alone. However, this may not be the same when they’re working on individual projects or in groups, particularly outside their comfort zone.
Where many introverts can be creative with new ideas, working in a team is not always comfortable as they prefer space to develop their ideas, whereas extroverts thrive in an environment where they can share ideas. Talented extroverts, with the right social skills, can inspire and motivate others but how do we get the best from both of these different traits in a working environment?
The focus shouldn’t be on which is the more intelligent but judge them on their different skills, accepting who they are instead of assuming they should meet the aspirations of others.
After all, where would new ideas and progress come from if we didn’t challenge the status quo. We should always encourage thinking differently in the workplace and never be afraid to question "why?".
Most introverts are not shy, they’re just at their best in quieter situations but this doesn’t mean they’re not capable of being in the spotlight when it suits, although may not be a favoured experience.
Both introvert and extrovert traits tend to affect the way we go through life and most of us have a foot in both camps in various shades. Many shared objectives can be the same for both but the journey is often very different.
Extrovert leaders usually have a high-profile involvement with the people they manage, whereas introverted leaders will allow their employees to find their own way to use their creativity in achieving tasks. Both approaches have their merits and for employees to understand these traits is a bonus towards harmony within the workplace.
Managers can harness the power of introvert and extrovert employees by including them in a way that suits their strengths and tendencies to make their maximum impact. The “Change Maker Profile”, a tool widely used within the Change Maker Group achieves exactly this and forms a major part of The Change Maker Programme.
It examines the proclivities for individuals, teams and organisations to make a positive impact on contribution through; Leadership, Engagement, Understanding, Creativity and generally getting things done.
Without the introverted creativity of Steve Wozniak and the extroverted vison of Steve Jobs, would Apple be where they are today?
Contact Mark Hallam at firstname.lastname@example.org