Someone posted an interesting question just yesterday on the LinkedIn Certified Project, Program, & Portfolio Managers group. “Do you find it tough for introverts to manage projects?”
The preferences for extroversion and introversion are often referred to as attitudes. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment assumes that each of the cognitive functions can operate in the external world of behavior, action, people, and things (extroverted attitude) or the internal world of ideas and reflection (introverted attitude), and thus it sorts for an overall preference for one or the other.
People who prefer extroversion draw energy from action: they tend to act, then reflect, then act further. If they are inactive, their motivation tends to decline. To rebuild their energy, extroverts need breaks from time spent in reflection. Conversely, those who prefer introversion expend energy through action: they prefer to reflect, then act, then reflect again. To rebuild their energy, introverts need quiet time alone, away from activity. Some summary observations from the research literature include:
- Extroverts are action oriented, while introverts are thought oriented.
- Extroverts seek breadth of knowledge and influence, while introverts seek depth of knowledge and influence.
- Extroverts often prefer more frequent interaction, while introverts prefer more substantial interaction.
- Extroverts recharge and get their energy from spending time with people, while introverts recharge and get their energy from spending time alone.
I think you could make a case for either preference being a good fit for project management, with different styles. My Meyers-Briggs type is INTJ, and I seem to do all right. One of my former colleagues is ESFP, and she’s thriving, too. Of course, I couldn’t manage the way she does, and my style would probably put her into therapy inside of a month, but we each get to choose our own styles, so it works. The key is to understand your preferences, and develop a style that gets the job done, leveraging your own attitudes and preferences, while acknowledging and respecting the different attitudes and preferences of the people you work with.
For more information on the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment, check out the Myers & Briggs Foundation website.