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The Advantage Of Being An Ambivert

extrovert - introvert.jpgIt is reported that about 3.5 million people annually take the MBTI (Myers-Briggs) personality assessment as part of some form of evaluation for team building and leadership development (hopefully not for employment screening but that is the subject for another blog).

Much has been said about how organizations favor the extrovert and how smart authors like Susan Cain have countered with the strength of being an introvert. Both are valid in their own way.

What has not been discussed that much is the ambivert.

Larry Kim, in a really smart blog post: Are Ambiverts More Influential & Successful Than Extroverts? Looks at the long overlooked ambivert personality type and makes the following observations:

Ambiverts Make Better Sales People

Kim starts by referencing a 2013 research paper Rethinking the Extraverted Sales Ideal: The Ambivert Advantage, where The Wharton School’s Adam M. Grant examined the correlation between extroversion and sales aptitude. In the article Grant tackled the long held assumption that extrovert made better sales people. This is easy to understand since extroverts would be outgoing, conversational, and not fearful of making cold calls or presentations.

Interestingly, the Grant study found that the correlation of extroversion to sales success was weak. The study went on further to say that the MBTI personality type with the highest correlation to sales performance was the ambivert.

Kim provides the following paraphrase from the Grant study as clarification:

 “Ambiverts achieve greater sales productivity than extraverts or introverts do,”he wrote. “Because they naturally engage in a flexible pattern of talking and listening, ambiverts are likely to express sufficient assertiveness and enthusiasm to persuade and close a sale but are more inclined to listen to customers’ interests and less vulnerable to appearing too excited or overconfident.”

Larry Kim goes on further to explain the advantages that ambivert have in sales (and I would add to leadership since most leadership roles involve selling one’s vision and ideas).

The advantage ambiverts have starts with balance.


  • Ambiverts are more flexible. They don’t really prefer one way of functioning over the other. Mateo Sol described ambiverts as “… the neutral, middle-ground hippies … equally comfortable in situations where the introvert feels most at home and the extrovert are having a good time.”
  • They’re more emotionally stable. Extroverts are not easily influenced by outside factors, while introverts are hypersensitive. Ambiverts offer a good balance between the two and are referred to as the stability “normal” by famed psychologist Hans Eysenck, who coined the term “ambivert” in 1947.
  • Ambiverts are intuitive. This is a quality that serves them well in life and in business. As journalist Daniel K. Pink wrote, ambiverts “know when to speak up and when to shut up, when to inspect and when to respond, when to push and when to hold back.”
  • They’re more influential. In Grant’s sales experiment, ambiverts earned average hourly revenues of $155–24% higher than extroverts. People at either extreme end of the introvert-extrovert scale had the worst sales, while those smack in the middle had the highest, at $208 per hour.

The good news is that most of us are ambiverts. This helps to explain why in some situation you may be more outgoing and in other more reserved. This is a good thing and will show how you can better manage and lead ourselves and others around you.

 Note: This blog post drew heavily from the great work by Larry Kim, the the CEO of MobileMonkey. I follow him on Medium and would encourage everyone to check his posts out. He consistently writes really insightful blog posts on leadership and career management.