Copyright Wirawat Lian-udom (Creative Commons)
Carl Jung once said:
There is no such thing as a pure extrovert or a pure introvert. Such a man would be in the lunatic asylum.
Although I’m not an expert in analytical psychology like Jung, I do like to stick my nose out and argue a point. In this case, however, I would have to agree with Carl. (Can I call you Carl? Thanks.)
The latest issue of Entrepreneur magazine has an article entitled “A Winning Personality: Why Ambiverts Make Great Entrepreneurs” that talks about the spectrum of introversion and extroversion and how people fit somewhere on the spectrum and almost never at the extremes. Kind of like a bell curve. And the best spot to be on this curve? Well, if you are in sales, then apparently being exactly in the middle is the best spot. And that is what they call an ambivert, someone who straddles the introvert/extrovert spectrum and sits firmly in the middle.
For the longest time extroverts were considered the best entrepreneurs. Then, when Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking came out people looked at introverts as potentially being better entrepreneurs. The research by Adam Grant that looked at sales in a software company and identified ambiverts as being the best sales people, seems to have identified both as being necessary.
And isn’t that just like world, making everything work out to be a different shade of gray. (Search Engine Optimization trick there, utilizing a current popular movie in the text in order to associate this topic, ambiverts, with BDSM. Oh, wait, maybe this isn’t such a good idea.)
Adaptation, being able to listen (introvert) or expound your ideas (extrovert), depending upon the circumstances, gives the ambiverts the ability to exceed their more singularly focused counterparts. But what does that really mean for IT?
I’ve been a big proponent of the idea that IT needs a sales/marketing department. We do a bad job of marketing our services and selling our story. It’s always been assumed that a larger than life personality would be best in this role, someone who could be called an instigator or game changer. But that is probably not the best person for the job as this person is more likely going to be pushing their ideas instead of listening to the problems. An extrovert is more likely to be pushing solutions for which the client has no corresponding problem whereas an ambivert is going to listen to the client, find out what the problem is, and then bring out their inner extrovert and propose a solution that actually fits the problem.
Long live the ambivert. (Just, for goodness sake, change the name.)