By Ed Stetzer
I know this may come as a shock, but I am an extrovert—a really extroverted extrovert.
Both extroverts and introverts have tendencies that can become weakness. The best way to combat this is through intentionality. You have to be aware of who you are and whom you have on your team. I’ve found these three tips helpful in leading as an extrovert in ministry and beyond.
Be a catcher, not a pitcher.
This might be the only sports analogy you’ll ever get from me, but it holds true. Ask questions and gather feedback instead of always speaking and making assumptions.
As an extrovert, the natural inclination is to speak first and speak often. That’s how we process information. However, if you’re not careful, you’ll create a passive environment from those around you. They will assume you’ll give the first, last and only word. They won’t feel the need to come to meetings ready to share ideas or give input.
That doesn’t mean you become passive yourself. Sometimes the leader must be willing to say what others are too afraid to say. When you point out the emperor has no clothes, some people may cheer, but the emperor is usually not too happy about it.
In dealing with others, work hard to treat them fairly and seek out their input. You cannot control others’ feelings, but you can assure them you’ve understood their point of view—even if you disagree with them.
Deal with mistakes seriously, but graciously.
Some people will not want to accept responsibility for mistakes they made, while others are too hard on themselves. As an extrovert, you can help make sure everyone grows from mistakes, including you.
I want people around me who are passionate about what they do, but who will stand up and admit when they messed up. For those who are reluctant to acknowledge their own shortcomings, you can point it out to them if needed.
For those who recognize the mistake and are eager to learn from it, you can show grace and build them up. This is where the extrovert can be a good teacher to his or her team. The goal should be for the individual to gain wisdom and for the team to be better as a result.
When you have developed an environment where your team feels free to speak, they can help you see your mistakes as well. You should seek to work with people who see what you can’t see. They can cover your blind spots and remind you that you have room to grow as well.
Take what you give.
Us extroverts are often blunt in how we deliver news—sometimes too blunt. We should be prepared for and even encourage bluntness in those on our team and in our life.
When you have created the right environment and handled mistakes properly, people will feel the freedom to be completely honest with you. If they think an idea is horrible, they’ll tell you. But if they think something coming up can make a huge impact, they’ll let you know and get involved with it.
Don’t get upset and angry every time others challenge ideas. Eventually, the decision has to be made, but hearing from different perspectives can help make the final project that much stronger. Train your team to know when it’s time to raise concerns and when it’s time for the leader to make the call and the team follows.
Extroverts have many traits that are associated with leadership, but don’t assume your personality makes you a leader. Be intentional about improving. Believing you’re the perfect leader doesn’t mean you’re an extrovert. It means you’re a jerk.