By Wunmi Adelusi
For the longest time, I thought and believed my personality could be a hindrance to my career growth. I lived that myth out for a while before I realised that my personality was mine to harness and leverage on. We have allowed the phrase “this is how I am” dictate to us what we can get out of our environment. Well, that ends now!
Research shows that your personality – whatever type that might be – can be your greatest asset if you just understand how to use it to your best advantage.
There are two broad personality types: the extrovert and the introvert.
An extrovert is known to derive his/her energy from being around people. Most times, they are externally stimulated, love talking, and sometimes forget when to stop. They are usually very sociable and can use their natural friendly nature and confidence to create rapport for effective team building.
An introvert, on the flip side, feels drained when surrounded by a lot of people. They love their me-time and their space, they can be reserved, and often not the best talkers. So they get to channel most of their energy into observing their environment, listening, reading, and writing – basically things that allow them express themselves when alone.
Recently, a friend of mine did an Instagram poll that showed that extroverts have more mentors/sponsors than introverts do. Now, I strongly feel the personality is not precisely what holds us back from putting ourselves out there, instead it is the thought of how bad we could be if we try. And my question is, why not?
I have observed that not everyone who has remarkable career growth or visibility is an extrovert. Somehow, these people have just mastered the art over time, and if we don’t, we could hate on these people for a really long time.
So how can you leverage your personality for growth without losing your authenticity?
You cannot address what you don’t know, so you need to, first, identify your personality. Who are you? How best do you like to express yourself? In fact, a quick way to this is to take a personality test. There are numerous tests out there, a google search would help.
Identify and maximise your strengths
Your strength looks best on you because it is yours. What is that thing you do effortlessly? What do people keep coming to you for? Which area is your opinion most sought? Are you the go-to person when it comes to party planning/gathering people together/ starting conversation?
That is a pointer to what you can forge within your organisation. You could start with showing up for volunteering opportunities. For an introvert like me, it could be doing peer reviews for your colleagues. Don’t let what people say stop you from owning your strength.
Be consistent with your unique selling point
The best way to master an art and get the result is to be consistent. That is how that thing can be your trademark. People who suddenly seem to be known in this age are those who have been consistent with their craft, whether people watched or not.
So when your favourite supervisor is not the one championing that extracurricular activity at work, would you still volunteer? Do you give your best to writing reports to the boss as well as sending a mail to your subordinate?
Being consistent requires discipline – discipline to say ‘no’ or ‘yes’ as occasion demands.
Recognise when to step out of your comfort zone.
Because each personality is most comfortable in its area of strength, we can get lost there, that is why it is crucial to know when to step out of that zone. As an extrovert, you should know when to stop talking and give others the chance to do so.
As an introvert, you should know when to speak up, particularly when you attend meetings. That is when to brace up and say something from your reservoir of knowledge gained from observing, listening, or reading. That’s when to showcase that you understand all that’s been said, even if its just reiterating someone else’s point. Even when it requires you to do more work, no one gets recognised by doing only their job description, be willing to do extra.
How have you been leveraging your personality type in the workplace?