Introverts can make great leaders in hospitality
Hospitality is a people business, right? So how do introverts fare in a job that involves leading all types of personalities, interacting with guests or colleagues and being the “go to” person who diplomatically solves problems on a daily basis?
A July 2016 study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research suggests a correlation between introverted personality traits among CEOs and positive revenue outcomes or “contemporaneous and future return on assets and cash flow.” Bill Gates (Microsoft), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), and Larry Page (Google) all famously identify as introverts. But, how does this translate to the hospitality industry, which is often so dependent on customer service, outreach, and social interaction?
Introverts have some unique qualities that are actually assets in the service industry. Most introverts are careful in their decision-making, don’t rush to take unnecessary risks and are good listeners. They’re happy to let employees run with their own ideas and to give them opportunities to explore their own talents.
Often, employees of introverts are more motivated and their introverted managers experience better outcomes as a result. As Bill Gates said in a 2013 interview with ABC, “I think introverts can do quite well. … [but] you better hire some extroverts … and tap into both sets of skills in order to have a company that thrives both as in deep thinking and building teams and going out into the world to sell those ideas.”
Introverts are sometimes misunderstood
In today’s world, especially in American culture, extroverted, quick-thinking, highly social, risk-takers are perceived as “take charge,” effective leaders. Introverts are sometimes perceived as “loners,” anti-social, slow-thinking and poor team players.
In fact, however, introverts just have a different approach. They may need time to themselves to think of creative solutions, develop new plans or examine details that might escape someone who’s more apt to react quickly. Introverts also don’t typically overshare, so when they do speak up with an idea or plan, it’s likely well developed and thoroughly thought-out. If your’re introverted, you process more on the inside than demonstrate on the outside, but that doesn’t mean you’re uninterested or uninvolved.
What if you have an introverted boss?
So, what if you have an introverted boss? What can you do to take advantage of his/her strengths and get along if your personalities are really different?
- First of all, recognize that your boss IS an introvert and acknowledge you might have contrasting communication styles. Knowing that, be aware that introverts like to think before they speak. So, when introducing a new idea or issue, give them time to think and circle back after they’ve had time to consider the options.
- Understand they require some alone time to recharge. They don’t always want company at all times of the day, at meals or after work.
- Realize that introverts are good listeners and are typically patient and persistent. Those are strong leadership qualities that will allow you to broaden your own talents and receive insightful guidance that can move your career forward.
Hospitality Careers for Introverts?
Surprisingly, it really isn’t about a specific career or industry that works best for an introverted personality. It’s more important to identify the environment you’ll be working in and the daily responsibilities you’ll face. Because introverts want to listen to others and don’t invite a lot of small talk, they are engaged at a deeper level and build strong relationships. Guests feel heard and employees feel empowered, all of which results in a work environment where superior customer service is found.
Introverts are good negotiators and problem-solvers
Because of their tendency to speak quietly and act reasonably, to actively listen and ask questions, introverts make great negotiators and problem-solvers. This could be due to the fact that they are often perceived as better listeners. As quoted in a CNN article, Wharton School associate professor Dr. Adam Grant published research that suggests “introverted leaders often deliver better outcomes than extroverts, because they’re more likely to consider other people’s suggestions” when solving problems, negotiating with colleagues, or mentoring employees.
As long as you choose the right environment and work to your strengths, being an introvert can truly be an asset in your leadership role – yes, even in the hospitality industry.
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