Posted 26/01/2021 in Category 1

Are There Advantages to Being an Extravert at Work?

Are There Advantages to Being an Extravert at Work?


From the television programmes and films we watch about success, performance and the high life, the extraverts appear to have it all. And if you want the high life, you need superlative performance outcomes to secure the top of the range sports car, 8-bedroom house, six or seven-figure salary and so on. We see the success of athletes at the top of their game in various trappings like private jets, private yachts, and private islands. But where there are advantages, there are disadvantages. And there might be other ways to succeed. 


Introverts and extraverts abound in sport and in the workplace. Introverts and extraverts succeed in sport and the workplace, so why is there this apparent distinction between these personality traits and does it really matter? While research brings the clearest picture, the popular press argues both ways highlighting the success of well-known introverts and extraverts. For example, we might see the competitive advantage of introversion in focus and sound listening skills while extraversion highlights some difficulties when working alone.


What we need to know is what is the clearest picture about introversion and extraversion in the workplace. This is an enormous task to unpick because there are so many variables at play when exploring personality and other relevant variables such as career development, motivations, values, attitudes, performance, and success. Wilmot and colleagues arranged variables across four career domains – education, job application, on the job and career/lifespan. Alongside these career domains are five conceptual categories: motivations, values, and interests; attitudes and well-being; interpersonal; performance, and counter-productivity. When we categorise the broad picture in this way it’s possible to understand to what extent extraversion is beneficial in the workplace and where are the greatest advantages if they exist? 


From 97 meta-analyses (studies examining the results from other studies), the authors showed effects in a positive direction for 90 percent of the variables – a small, but persistent advantage at work. Stronger advantages emerge in motivational, emotional, interpersonal and performance advantages at work. For example, positive emotions consistently show helpful effects while the sociability facet confers few benefits and sensation-seeking is mostly disadvantageous. It pays to be positive and to feel good in the workplace.


Research has consistently shown that happy people succeed. Although we might believe we will be happy when we succeed, happiness is driving the success cycle. Good cheer, it would appear, is the greatest investment in our lives. To answer the question about extraversion and the benefits in the workplace is tricky; however, we can learn to help ourselves to engage positively with others and to work competently alone. Success in sport and the workplace is a combination of personal endeavour and team roles coalescing for the great good of everyone.


The key for anyone is not to go changing yourself dramatically to fit an extravert profile, but to recognise that good relations depend on good cheer. And good cheer is a personal endeavour. Getting the best from yourself might depend on getting the best from others around you. It does not need to be stereotypically brash; rather, it needs to fit with you, your values, and goals. 


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References

Wilmot, M.P., Wanberg, C.R., Kammeyer-Mueller, J. & Ones, D.S. 2019, "Extraversion advantages at work: A quantitative review and synthesis of the meta-analytic evidence", Journal of Applied Psychology, vol. 104, no. 12, pp. 1447-1470.

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