11
Dec

Today’s blog is dedicated to an issue raised by a Knightsbridge client: How do I stop overpowering my team? It’s a great question in this era of new found respect for introverts.  How do we big, brash extroverts put a lid on it so the conversation can be more balanced and more productive?

Here are a few tips to stay on the positive side of the extrovert versus egomaniac equation.

  1. Start with an honest appraisal of your mindset. Do you believe your contribution is bigger and better than your teammates? If you don’t genuinely see the value of the team, you’re not going to have the energy or dedication to do any of the things below. [Remedial help for lone wolves coming in my next post.]
  2. When you walk into a team meeting, choose your seat wisely.  Instead of the most prominent seat (for example at the end of the table), choose a seat along the side of the table.  As you settle in, make sure you’re not taking up too much space. Keeping your physical presence contained will help with perceptions of how much space you take up in the room.
  3. Become more self-aware.  Pay attention to when and how often you chime in to the conversation. Even if you just make a tick mark on your notepad each time you speak, greater awareness is a great start.
  4. Create a discipline of not speaking first.  Wait until a couple of people have contributed before you join in the conversation.  That will make room for the extroverts who are less vocal than you.
  5. Focus on adding unique value: If a point is likely to be raised by someone else, leave it to them to make it.  Set a high bar for yourself and only contribute to the conversation if you have something really original to add. If you need to process the idea into your own words, do it on your notepad, rather than saying it out loud.
  6. Getting the introverts into the conversation will likely take more focused effort.  The best way to get their participation is to ask for it.  Use your strong gravitational pull to make room for others by asking “Mary, I’m wondering how you see this issue from the sales perspective.”
  7. Switch from assertions to questions.  Use your insight and clout to bring up important topics without necessarily sharing your opinion.  Great questions will enhance your credibility without stifling the team’s contribution.

If you find yourself starting to dominate again, you are probably not really opening yourself up to the contribution of others.  Go back to point #1, revisit your mindset and get back to the discipline of making room for your team.

Further Reading

How to Work for an Egomaniac Leader

Managing the Aggressor on your Team

Standing up to Powerful Bullies

3 Responses to Extrovert vs. Egomaniac: Are you too much for your team?

  1. Andrew Webster

    Great post, Liane! I’m a bit embarrassed to be the first to comment, as your tip #4 is definitely the one I need to work on most immediately, but can’t resist sharing how meaningful this is for me. The conversion from assertions to questions is one I always promise to get better at, but perhaps have such room to grow because I need the honest appraisal first.

    I’ve found the book Egonomics valuable: http://www.amazon.com/egonomics-Makes-Greatest-Expensive-Liability/dp/1416533230 . There is also some cool research out there on the value of “ambiverts”, though it’s pretty narrowly focused on sales people in this piece: http://www.forbes.com/sites/daviddisalvo/2013/04/10/move-over-extroverts-here-come-the-ambiverts/

  2. Jason

    Great peice. Maybe it’s strange that I feel extroverted with some groups and an introvert with others? Regardless, this tendency lends me a firm grounding in how the other half thinks when I’m in a team situation, which has proven to add value to both the process and output of the group. Be mindful of your inward as you look outward.

  3. Sonya

    I agree, Jason. I can see myself on both sides of this equation depending on the environment I am in and how comfortable I am. When I am on the E end of the continuum, I love the idea of holding back and focusing on unique value. Fantastic blog, Liane!

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