The past century in the US (and much of the western world) has witnessed the rise of the “Culture of Personality” where Americans increasingly focus on how others perceive them; the extroverted ideals of charisma, salesmanship, and an outgoing nature as celebrated as key traits of leadership, and introverts are… well, encouraged to be more like extroverts.
Yet a growing base of research suggests that the extroverted ideal may not be all it’s cracked up to be. While extroverted leaders tend to have bigger salaries than introverts, they don’t necessarily produce better business results, and in fact some suggest today’s increasing focus on extroverted leadership may be leading to an increased amount of risk-taking and reward-seeking behavior (behaviors correlated to extroversion) amongst the highly extroverted executives of some of the biggest companies in the world. In turn, a recent new book entitled “Quiet: The Power of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking” makes the point that perhaps we should get better at recognizing the value of introverts as well.
Notwithstanding the rise of the introverts, within the context of financial planning in particular, it seems that the extrovert ideal still reigns supreme, given the focus of financial planning as a “relationship business” that necessitates extensive interaction and deep bonds between advisors and clients. Yet even here, the reality is that despite misconceptions, introverts are not necessarily shy, and introversion is not necessarily about being antisocial but simply about interacting differently in social environments; in fact, the preference of introversions for more intimate one-on-one settings suggests that introverts might even be especially well suited to form the deep personal connections that support some of the best financial planning relationships!
As a strong introvert myself (yes, it’s true!) I find the growing research around introverts to be quite fascinating, and the more I look around the more I find that financial planning may be populated with far more introverts than anyone might have first suspected. But in the end, whether you’re an introvert yourself, or simply trying to figure out how to better work with, manage, or relate to one, Susan Cain’s “Quiet: The Power of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking” is a fascinating read with a fresh perspective on what introverts can bring to the table, and how introverts can try to function better in what – at least for now – is still a very extrovert-centric environment.