brains—the side that is more experimental, innovative and visionary—
works at its fullest capacity when
people are in a relaxed state. For
many individuals, that occurs when
they are alone. One of my colleagues
shared how his best ideas emerge
when he is taking walks. Such “
eureka” moments have been key to many
discoveries in science and technology,
including those coming out of Silicon
BUILDING A BETTER BALANCE
So how can we create work environments that balance individual
time with teamwork? Here are a few
Take control of your calendar. Is
it necessary to attend every meeting?
Know your expected role in advance
and how you can contribute. Maybe
it’s time to decline some meetings
that have little value or to ask someone to go in your place.
When you’re the one planning
meetings, show that you respect
everyone’s time by developing agendas, setting ground rules—such as
“no interrupting”—and sticking to
Use technology. Group projects
needn’t be accomplished by meetings
alone. Integrating chat tools such
as Slack and Trello, or fle-sharing
applications like Google Docs, gives
your team time for both individual
thinking and collaboration.
Create action steps for individuals. Not every project needs
everyone’s input throughout its life
cycle—and, in fact, an overreliance
on consensus can often weaken the
quality of the fnal product or deliverable. Suggest action steps that each
person can accomplish on their own.
If discussion is needed, reach out to
people individually or form short-term task forces.
Value each person’s input. En-
gage introverts during meetings.
Try “brainwriting”—an intro-
vert-friendly idea-generation tech-
nique in which individuals write
down concepts and share them
anonymously. It values reflective
input and ensures that everyone’s
contribution is captured.
Consider teams of two. Be creative
in how you connect with people and
solve problems. Having a “walking
meeting” with a colleague might be
just the solution to a sticky problem.
This approach gives introverts time
to think and connect one-on-one—
which they prefer to larger-group
interactions—while extroverts get the
opportunity to talk out their ideas and
think on their feet (literally).
Teams are here to stay. But as
business leaders increasingly rec-
ognize the strengths of introverts,
I hope we will pause and consider
how we can adjust our cultures to
value individuals as well as groups. I
believe we will all reap the rewards
of making that shift.
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