Introverts and Extroverts: The Dream Team?

Posted: Mar 19 2015

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Understanding individual personalities has become a priority in the workplace over recent years. Knowing how people work and communicate on an individual basis can help teams to collaborate, bond and thrive overall. This understanding is a core part of any team building event, and it is something that should be a priority in the workplace.

As a rule, people think of ‘introverts' and ‘extroverts' as two very separate personality types who have completely polarised ways of working. There is some truth to this thought process, at least in terms of each type's preference when it comes to the environment.

For example, an introvert would much prefer to think everything through before speaking or doing. They also prefer quiet internalised reflection, rather than battling things out to come to a conclusion. Extroverts, on the other hand, prefer to be around people, feeding off an almost electrically charged atmosphere and often speaking before they think, in the pursuit of action.

Now, with such opposite characteristics, you would imagine that a mixed team of introverts and extroverts would be a bit of a challenge, with fraught energy and even conflict when times get tough. However, they do say though that opposites attract, and that seems to have been the case for introverts and extroverts.

Of course, it is natural that the two clash in some cases, but it is nothing some communication and negotiation can't fix. Interestingly though, successful teams and pairings who have managed to make history together have often been a Ying and Yang combination; one part introvert, one part extrovert.

A famous example of such a pairing is the mastermind duo behind Apple Inc., Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. Jobs was a charismatic extrovert, Wozniak a reflective and innovative introvert. Two very different men, but together, they were the perfect balance of "think" and "do".

So let's take a closer look at the pair and the very different individuals within it.

Steve Jobs (1955-2011)

Part inventor, part entrepreneur, Jobs was the salesman and very public face of Apple. He managed the Press, spoke at conferences and spent time networking.

He was a brilliant mind in his own right and really helped to drive the brand (and its ideas) forward, fixing them firmly in the public's minds and hearts.

His understanding and experience of the quieter realms of innovation meant he could appreciate the creative and technical process, before taking it and running with it in the public eye.

And what other characteristics of a typical extrovert did Jobs display? Well, examples include a preference for talking, a number of different interests, spontaneity, a social personality and a need to collaborate for inspiration.

Sounds very Jobs-like, doesn't it?

Steve Wozniak (1950-current)

The brain behind one of the world's biggest technology brands, Wozniak - or Woz as he is known - is considered a textbook introvert. He is a thinker by nature, taking the time to come up with innovations and reflect on them as he develops them.

He is credited for designing both the Apple I and Apple II computers during the 1970s, and he has remained an integral part of Apple and its legacy. Wozniak has plenty of other digital and tech based interests too, as well as an intriguing personal life, but it is his work in the Apple lab that has made its mark on history.

As an introvert, Wozniak works best when left to his own devices, where he can think things through, reflect on his ideas and run with his eureka moments. As such, his (semi) behind-the-scenes work and token public appearances for Apple were perfectly complemented by the out-and-about nature of his extrovert partner.

Now, it could be that the two Steves are a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon, but the way they perfectly matched one another and how they embraced and made the most of their opposing personalities is something any team can achieve.

Whether you need a little push in the form of a team building event with Team Challenge Company, or you just need to understand the benefits that come from your team's mixture of introverts and extroverts, you could well hold the key to the next Jobs-Woz style phenomenon.

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