Is Agile Working Only for Extraverts? How Leaders Can Be More Considerate of Their Teams

Do we burn out introverts in Agile Working? This question has been on Till Weinert’s mind ever since he took a personality test. The Agile Enterprise Coach and Release Train Engineer at Porsche Digital is certain: introverted voices are not given their fair share in the current working world. As a guest on the German podcast “Mein Scrum ist kaputt” (episode 114), Till Weinert talks about the strengths of those who are quickly overlooked.

How does an agile working environment affect different personalities?

Personality tests like the Big Five open up new ways of thinking about the composition of teams. Till Weinert, who used to think of himself as an extravert, suddenly found himself midway between the two personality traits. In retrospect, he realized that this was due to his wrong understanding of introversion and extraversion. Many people still think that “introverted” is synonymous with “shy”. Instead, it’s about processing stimuli and what environment different people need to recharge their batteries: introverts prefer the inner world, while extraverts are more outward-looking. They are also the ones who can still gain energy at the afterparty after a long conference and network late into the night, while introverts are looked at sideways because they leave early for their hotel room.

The strengths of introverts and extraverts

Introversion and extraversion are a spectrum, no one is exclusively one or the other: many introverts can deliberately disguise themselves at work so as not to be perceived “negatively”, but in the long run this can lead to increased stress. Till Weinert believes that the world has an ideal of extraversion. Since then, he not only asks about teamwork skills in job interviews, but also sometimes: “How well do you work alone?” — a strength that is often underestimated. This is also reflected in the fact that introverts tend to be overlooked for salary increases and promotions. More proactivity on the part of employers is needed here.

Managers could also think about how to make groups more considerate when working in teams. Does everyone have to work together all the time? Do tasks also work in breakout sessions or asynchronously? An exchange with the team and the conscious selection of new formats are needed here.

Leaders also tend to be extraverts, something Till Weinert finds regrettable. Instead, he advocates a balance between more extroverted and more introverted leaders. While extraverts tend to be better at motivating and speaking in front of groups and are more decisive and willing to take risks than introverts, the latter can promote individual initiative, also show more empathy, are more cooperative and create spaces instead of taking them. Ideally, both sides should learn something from and strengthen sensitivity for each other. At the same time, Till Weinert warns against squeezing introverts and extraverts directly into expectations or roles, because conclusions about their personalities are drawn lightly.

Understanding introversion and extraversion is particularly important to Till, which is why he is also pushing the topic and its message internally at Porsche Digital, trying to find the right balance between introverts and extraverts in all cross functional teams. The complete episode “Mein Scrum ist kaputt” is available here (only in German).

Till Weinert, Agile Enterprise Coach and Release Train Engineer at Porsche Digital

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