Introverted Executives

Introversion: How can I become more extraverted?

Ways to become more extraverted - Coaching for leadership

Being open, sociable and quick to decide are extraverted skills, which are often associated with being a successful manager and leader. Therefore introverted executives often would like to gain more extraverted qualities.

In this article, you will learn about the respective strengths of introversion and extraversion. In addition, you will get to know different types of introversion and learn how these can build more extraverted competence.

Background: Introversion and Extraversion

It is not necessarily desirable to “just become more extravert” as both introversion and extraversion have its strengths and challenges:

  • Introverts tend to focus inward. They spend more time thinking and pondering than acting. Attention is focused on one’s own thoughts and state of mind and less on what other people are doing. Introverts interact with their own inner / imaginary world. They think before they speak – and internally anticipate reactions and counterarguments.
  • Extraverts focus their energy outward. They act and interact. Attention is on the interaction with other people and action. Extraverts speak and act and then deal with the reaction of others. They interact in order to progress their thinking through the reaction and arguments of others.

Introverts can benefit from being more outgoing and not overthinking in certain situations, while extraverts find advantages in the more introverted behavior of thinking first and avoiding hasty initiatives. Depending on the situation, different behaviors may be more appropriate.

Leadership roles often require more flexibility in both directions.

Comparing Introversion and Extraversion


  • Attention and energy directed inwards
  • They tend to observe, react and reflect rather than act quickly
  • Often described as quiet, reserved, and calm
  • Prefer quiet environment
  • Increased brain activity in the frontal lobe and anterior thalamus (relevant to memory, problem solving, and planning – focus on internal information)

Possible Challenges

  • Need time alone (or with close friends) on a regular basis to recharge their batteries
  • Prefer fewer contacts / friendships / activities
  • More planning, less action orientation
  • Greater impulse control – less spontaneity


  • Attention and energy directed outwards
  • Tend to react and act quickly rather than pondering
  • Often described as outgoing, enthusiastic, assertive, active
  • Prefer a stimulating environment
  • Greater brain activity in the temporal lobe, posterior cingulate gyrus and posterior thalamus (greater engagement with sensory processes/more focus on external information)

Possible Challenges

  • Need outside stimulation and time with other people to recharge their batteries
  • Like lots of contacts and variety
  • More action, less planning and reflection orientation
  • Less impulse control – more spontaneity


Introversion Types – Dealing with Action and Speaking Impulses

With regard to action impulses, introverts differ from extraverts in that they act out or express action or language impulses less often. In terms of impulses, there are two forms of introversion:

  • Type A: Lower Impulses
    Lower expression of the impulses overall – maybe the impulses come slowly or only after the actual situation.
  • Type B: High level of impulse control
    Strong impulses combined with strong control of these impulses – The person has an impulse but does not act on it because there is an internal counter-impulse, e.g. in the form of a thought (“I’d rather not say that”) or holding back the impulse to move .

Both types are characterized by being less outwartly oriented, but this is for very different reasons.

Self-perceived suffering / challenges

Both types of introversion suffer from post-event dissatisfaction from not saying or doing something. They may also be dissatisfied more generally from taking too little space. The question then arises as to whether and in what form the missed action can be made up for. Again, weaker impulses may lead to further missed opportunities or strong impulse control leads to further holding back.

As a result, introverts perceive themselves as people who think a lot about their behaviour and act too little (or too little forcefully).

Special Competencies

The special competence of introverts consists in their ability for self-reflection. A lot of thinking means playing through scenarios, weighing options for action, anticipating consequences. Introverts are very good at planning and pondering. They can foresee options for action at lightning speed. However, this scenario analysis tends to find reasons for holding back the impulse and for inaction. Therefore, introverts are usually very good at developing existing ideas further and preparing concrete options.

For Introverts it is important to find the courage to carry out potentially risky actions. This is where coaching can provide good support.

Behavioural Development Opportunities for Introverts

Behavioural competence to act can be built up through practice. Therefore, extraverted people often seem to learn faster – because they follow their impulses and therefore take many opportunities to practice (often spontaneously). Introverts, on the other hand, mainly train their planning and anticipation skills and often do not follow through with action.

Specialized Trainings

Therefore, the way to more extraversion is through conscious action and practice. For this purpose, an attempt can be made to reproduce ideal-typical behaviour and to find training and practice areas. This can be, for example, leadership training or – in relation to public appearances – rhetoric seminars and Toastmasters clubs.

What is your advice to people who are not very social / socially anxious?
“Get the Hell out there and practice!”

Jordan B. Peterson Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto

The Situation as a Training Ground

It is a bit more tricky to practice the many everyday situations. There are few specialised training opportunities available to practice conducting a business meeting more forcefully. One-on-One coaching is possible but this lacks the real world stress factors of such situations (time pressure, conversation largely focused on contents and less on presentation).

The following approach has proven itself for this. The situation itself is taken as a daily practice field. The trick is to use the existing real impulses and the associated emotions to expand your own scope step by step.

It is usually not too late to belatedly express the original impulse. At the same time, there are often better options for action than the very first impulse.

Analyze – Act – Learn: Approaches to change

In or after everyday situations there are several concrete starting points for change. The concrete impulses and associated emotions are taken as a reason for small action steps. Impulses and emotions can be explored by oneself or with the help of a coach.

Subsequently, the client faces the situation with courage and tries out new actions in the situation. He acts with the goal and in the direction which is given by his own impulses.


In the Situation:
Impulse / Emotionen

  • Lack of impulses:
    “What could I do/contribute here?”
  • Held back Impulse:
    “How can I act upon this impulse?”
  • Impulse comes too late (after the situation):
    “How can I act upon it now?”
  • Associated emotions
Step 1

After the Situation:
Analysis of Impulses

  • What was my first impulse?
  • What was the emotion?
  • What do I want to achieve?
  • What would be good ways to do it?
    (Are there other ways to achieve the goal?)
  • When is a favourable moment? (Now or later?)
Step 2


  • Express the impulse in a socially appropriate / targeted manner
  • There are often better ways to become active than expressing the first impulse: act in a considered / diplomatic / well-prepared manner
Step 3


  • “What can I do better next time?”
  • “How did it feel to act?”
  • “Could I perform this action more spontaneously / more timely next time?”

Analysis of Impulses

  • Lack of impulses:
    • When the person realises that they have no momentum to act, they can ask themselves:
      • “Is there anything I can do/contribute?” – the person sets a stimulus for additional impulses.
      • “What would motivate me to act?”
      • “What would I miss out on if I do not act?”
  • Held back Impulse
    • If the person finds that they are holding back an impulse to say/do something, they can become aware of it. Instead of making the decision to do/say nothing unconsciously or habitually, she can turn it into a conscious decision.
    • Sequence of questions:
      • “What is my first impulse?”
      • “What do I want to achieve with it?”
      • “What would be a good way to achieve this goal? (Are there any other ways to achieve this goal?)”
      • “When is a favourable moment? (Now or later?)”
  • After the situation: Dissatisfaction with absent/withheld impulses
    • It is often only later that the person will realise that they missed something to do or say in a situation. The impulse came but was suppressed. Or the impulse came, but it came too late. After that, one may get angry about oneself at the missed opportunity.
    • This gives additional opportunities for planning / preparing to catch up on an action or to perform another action with the same purpose.
    • Sequence of questions:
      • “What is my first impulse?”
      • “What do I want to achieve with it?”
      • “What would be a good way to achieve this goal? (Are there any other ways to achieve this goal?)”
      • “When is a favourable moment? (Now or later?)

Action and Learning

In any case, it is important to take action. Because every small interaction with the environment, every spoken word, every small initiative expands the scope for action. And with every action there is feedback – i.e. new information. For analysis, I can ask myself: “How can I do it even better next time?”

Through the loop: impulse analysis -> action -> learning, extraverted competence is practiced on three levels:

  • Concrete emotional and impulse competence is practiced.
  • After that, skills are practiced (action competence). This includes the ability to follow impulses and carry out specific actions.
  • Finally, what has been experienced is made conscious and learned from it (self-reflection).

As a result, the person gradually builds up extraverted action competence. The additional actions are small and close to the previous competence to act. This minimises the triggering of fear. At the same time, the introverted skills of planning and reflection are used. The action anchors the competence in the body. This allows steady progress.