Extroverted Leaders: Do’s and Don’ts

Written by on January 8, 2015

Extroverted leaders have an open-door policy. They will often initiate the conversation, as they love to engage with other people. Since they’re approachable, the idea of bouncing an idea off of them is welcomed and reciprocated. Remember, they process what they’re thinking by talking out loud, so they’re usually looking for someone to provide feedback. This means they initiate contact and seem to spend more quality time with their teams than introverted leaders.

Typically, you will also find the extroverted leader engaging in brainstorming sessions with their teams. The process of “group thinking” facilitates the best possible outcome for their style. Often, they will engage in a conversation without necessarily picking a side and not because they have a hard time making a decision. They use the forum to hear everyone’s thoughts but mostly to hear their own. This makes the employees feel like their ideas and opinions are being valued.

But all of that great collaboration, “your opinion matters,” and “I value our conversations,” could lead to inappropriate sharing of information. Sometimes people will assume what is being said is the gospel. It’s too easy to take conversations out of context if you’re the employee engaging with the extorverted leader. Be very careful to frame the conversations as gathering information, as to not mislead anyone about the intent or the deliverables

The other caution about brainstorming sessions is that they can leave out the introverted team members. The quick discussions and twists and turns are usually more fun and exciting for extroverts. What would be deemed a lively and productive meeting might be viewed as disorganized and chaotic to the introverts in the room. Remember, neither style is right or wrong. We are seeking to create some understanding of the dynamics you need to be mindful of when engaging your team. Honoring both styles is not easy but it’s necessary to get the well-rounded feedback.

If you’re extroverted, please be careful about invading the physical space of those around you. This can be annoying on its own, but add your title to the mix and it can be a liability on an entirely different level.

One of the biggest regrets extroverted leaders have involves responding too quickly to emails. The down side is obvious and can be damaging to a career. You fire back too quickly without thinking of the ramifications and the damage can be permanent. Too often the emails are read out of context, as it’s very difficult to know the rest of the story, and who knows what the reader was in the middle of when it was received? Timing plays a huge role in email communication and should be considered before any sensitive topics are responded to, regardless of whether you’re an introvert or extrovert.

I was recently sitting at my desk (for the thirteenth straight hour) when I received a quick response email from an extrovert on my team. He had posed a question earlier in the day that required about a dozen other people to provide input, and I was trying to connect all of the dots before I responded to him. Needless to say, his comments about no one caring about his situation did not sit well with me.

I am happy to say, that I deleted the first email I drafted BEFORE it was too late. I wanted to tell him all of the many variables that happened and I wanted to bite his head off for being so snarky about it. Unfortunately, I have not been so wise in the past and still cringe remembering some of the emails I’ve sent to people I’ve offended by responding without thinking of the bigger picture. I will assume I’m not alone in that regret. Perhaps time will be kind to us for those miscues.

Here is a short checklist of things extroverted leaders need to stay mindful of:

  • Pause before you respond to big issues (write out your email and wait one day to send it)
  • Make sure you honor the introvert’s need for time and reflection on new issues
  • Don’t dominate the conversation
  • Use a headset so you can stay mobile
  • Play music through your headphones to re-energize
  • Go out for lunch with others
  • Make sure you complain “up.” Don’t ever talk to one of your direct reports about issues you might have with those you report to.

Excerpt from the Best Selling Book….”What Exceptional Leaders Know”, co-authored with Wally Schmader.