The Importance of Formal Mentoring for High Potential Introverts
Research has shown (and intuitively we all know) that extroverts tend to be more successful in the corporate world. The Truity Psychometrics study, for example, showed that extroverts earn substantially more than introverts and are more likely to reach senior managerial roles. Extroverts just seem naturally equipped to climb the corporate ladder.
Yet a recently published 10-year leadership study, CEO Genome Project, made the interesting finding that “while boards often gravitate toward charismatic extroverts, introverts are slightly more likely to surpass the expectations of their boards and investors.”
You can see the problem, can’t you? Introverts make as good, if not better leaders than extroverts, but they may find getting to a leadership position much more challenging.
How do we ensure that the introverts with great leadership potential in our organisations do not get overlooked?
The Role of Mentoring in Extrovert Success
A recent study from the University of Missouri explored the role of mentoring in this correlation between extroversion and career success. The study examined a sample of 333 business school alumni working in diverse occupations. Career success was measured on income, promotions and job satisfaction, surveys were used to measure personality type (Goldberg 1999) and mentoring received (Dreher and Ash 1990).
The study found that extroverted and proactive personalities are more likely to seek mentoring and are perceived by potential mentors as more attractive and rewarding protégés. It also found that increased mentoring had a direct effect on career success. In other words, at least one of the reasons that extroverts are so successful is because they are naturally able to find others who will mentor and sponsor them.
But What About the Introverts?
While highlighting the impact mentoring can have on career success, the study also flags the dangers in relying upon self-serve or informal mentoring to develop organisation leadership.
Introverts are unlikely to reach out to potential mentors of their own accord, and do not have the charisma that might draw would-be mentors to seek them out. This is where a formal mentoring program really comes into its own. It does not discriminate by personality type and ensures equal access to mentors and networks.
Signing up for a formal mentoring program is significantly less daunting for an introvert than actively soliciting an informal mentor. So right off the bat, formal mentoring is more likely to attract high potential introverts.
Having a program manager determine the mentor/mentee matching takes the pressure off introverted mentees to present as a bright, interesting protégé, and ensures they can access appropriate senior mentors.
Perhaps most important, professional training can help mentors become skilled at pulling introverts out of their shells and give introverted mentees skills to help them stand out in the organisation.
Left to their own devices, introverts, no matter how high their potential, are going to struggle to engage mentors on their own, meaning they miss out on accessing all the knowledge and networks a mentor can bring. By implementing a formal mentoring program your organisation makes it easier for high potential introverts to be noticed and appropriately prepared for leadership positions.
Melissa Richardson 2017
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