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Within the adaptability framework there are five character traits that are important to understand in order to be as adaptable as possible, both as an individual, at a team level and at the organisation level.
One of the things that AQai measures, is the character trait of extraversion. Any of you who’ve been involved in personality profiling, whether that’s Myers Briggs, DISC, or Insights, will be familiar with the distinction between introversion and extraversion. Sometimes the way those two things are defined varies a little bit. In popular culture, the introverted person is the quiet person sitting in the corner. By contrast the extroverted person is the person out there, being the life and soul of the party. This may not be the best way to think of the two extremes. Instead consider what most energises you. An extrovert will be energised by interaction with others. An introvert will be energised by being on their own. Like so many things that AQAI looks at there is a spectrum here. A spectrum between very extroverted and very introverted. You as an individual will be assessed as somewhere on the spectrum.
Why this matters for individuals
I think there are three reasons why it matters in terms of adaptability. At the individual level, when there’s a lot of change, then if you’re introverted you’re going to need to draw more of your energy from being away from people. But change often demands that you are engaging more with people and so adapting to change is draining. As an introvert, you need to be intentional about finding space on your own to re-energise.
If you’re an extrovert, then change may energise you because change often involves more meetings, more interaction with others, more excitement around being with people. Typically most people who are trying to create change within an organisation, will seek to implement that change by bringing people together, having more meetings, workshops and team interaction. You may feel that you’re thriving as an extrovert in this environment, but you may not be taking the best account of people who are more introverted and creating space for them to adapt and re-energise during the change.
Why this matters for teams
At a team level you need to understand the balance of extroverts and introverts in your team. You need to create space for both for the extroverts and introverts to have the opportunity to be re-energised. Introverts may prefer to reflect on detailed information and capture their response in writing. Meanwhile extroverts can be keen to externally process in group settings. As a leader, you’re more likely to be operating in an extroverted mode and may be tempted to respond to team anxiety with more and more meetings.
Why this matters at the organisation level
At an organisation level you want to understand the balance you have between extraversion and introversion in different departments and different teams across the whole organisation. As you plan your communication strategy, plan the way that implements change and seek to increase your adaptability organisation-wide, you will need to recognise that different people will move at different paces and will adapt through different modes of engaging with the change agenda that you’ve got.
Extroversion versus introversion is an important character trait for you to understand in yourself, in your team and across the organisation as more and more change comes towards you and you have to become more effective at adapting to that change.
Charles McLachlan is the founder of FuturePerfect and on a mission to transform the future of work and business. The Portfolio Executive programme is a new initiative to help executives build a sustainable and impactful second-half-career. Creating an alternative future takes imagination, design, organisation and many other thinking skills. Charles is happy to lend them to you.