Over the years as a Business Coach, I’ve met many different personality types in all sorts of flavours. But until now, I have not been able to identify which personality type makes the best entrepreneur. Based on my experience, there isn’t a specific type that makes someone a better entrepreneur.
Before we start, a quick disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, and everything I mention here is based on my research and interpretation. I invite you to start the conversation if you feel different. Just be respectful.
But let’s look at the different types and see what kind of entrepreneur they very likely are.
We are starting with the most common types, the Introvert and Extrovert.
Let’s first see what the internet says about those:
- a typically reserved or quiet person who tends to be introspective and enjoys spending time alone
- a person who prefers calm environments limits social engagement or embraces a greater than average preference for solitude.
- psychology: the state of or tendency toward being predominantly concerned with and obtaining gratification from one’s own mental life: a personality trait or style characterized by a preference for or orientation to one’s thoughts and feelings
- an outgoing, socially confident person
- a typically gregarious and unreserved person who enjoys and seeks out social interaction
- psychology: the state of or tendency toward being predominantly concerned with and obtaining gratification from what is outside the self: a personality trait or style characterized by a preference for or orientation to engaging socially with others
Based on my experience, the real difference between them is from where they get energy and what environment they retreat to relax, think, and deal with problems.
An introvert needs their own space. If they struggle with something, they very likely retreat in a quiet corner and go through things in their mind. They need that space and privacy to function, fill up the energy reserves and take decisions.
The extrovert needs other people around. If they struggle with something, they need to talk about it. They would go crazy on their own. They need to reflect and hear other people’s opinions and ideas. They feel very comfortable being surrounded by others, and that’s where they get their energy from.
There is not much difference between them regarding entrepreneurship or leadership in business or career. Both can be amazing with other people, be extraordinary leaders and run very successful companies.
From a coaching perspective, I align with their personality type. Coaching an introvert means giving that person the space they need to recharge, think, and decide. Give them everything they need to come to their conclusion.
While coaching an extrovert means being there and guiding the learning process. Being a sounding board to reflect on thoughts and ideas is very important.
There is not much difference between them regarding the action involved in starting or running a career or business. Both are likely out of their comfort zone and will struggle to take the required steps. It’s only when they go home the profile comes out. The extrovert will go to some friends and talk about all the stuff they did today, while the introvert will reflect on their own.
I have not found any difference in the rate of success comparing those personality types.
Let’s talk about the more extreme examples.
The Narcissist and Psychopath. Again, let’s have a look at what the internet says:
- an extremely self-centred person who has an exaggerated sense of self-importance
- a person who has an excessive interest in or admiration of themselves.
- Psychopathy is defined as a mental (antisocial) disorder in which an individual manifests amoral and antisocial behaviour, shows a lack of ability to love or establish meaningful personal relationships, expresses extreme egocentricity, and demonstrates a failure to learn from experience and other behaviours associated.
- a person having an egocentric and antisocial personality marked by a lack of remorse for one’s actions, an absence of empathy for others, and often criminal tendencies
You might wonder why I put those types in the same article as Introverts or extroverts, and I can see why this is strange when it comes to psychopaths, but there are more out there than you might think. Not all psychopaths are serial killers. That is just the extreme end.
Let me give you an example in which position a person with psychopathic tendencies would excel the most: Imagine you run a company struggling in its market and become aware that you have to let a lot of your staff go. I guess you would agree that that would be very difficult for most people. For a person with psychopathic tendencies, that would be a very easy task.
When I investigated narcissists and psychopaths, I found the best explanation for both described as the following:
A person can become a narcissist through the way they were brought up and their experiences. In contrast, a psychopath is born like this. I am not sure if that is true, but both take away the responsibility on oneself and put it onto other circumstances. If that is true, we can’t blame them for being who they are.
I have worked with narcissistic people, and with some more extreme types, I would classify them as mild psychopaths.
Both of them can be very successful business people. They can take decisions quickly because they focus on themselves only. They are far less worried about other people. I would classify Elisabeth Holmes (Theranos) as a recently exposed person with these tendencies. But she is by far not the only one. There are many of them out there.
You would probably classify them as apathetic, and I believe that would be a good description. The thing is, once they are on their path, they tend to be very successful. Most of us don’t look at the person, but what they represent, the money they have and the success they produce. This is what attracts us to those people. And that is exactly what they need. This attention is what they feed on, and so the cycle continues.
Are they better entrepreneurs? I guess that depends on your definition of better. They will undoubtedly be in the top section if you measure money and fame. However, if you measure success on personal growth, community and leadership, you will not meet that many. It just doesn’t speak to them.
So from a coaching point of view, how do I deal with these types of people? It depends on their level, but in general, I would try to join them with a partner in charge of the areas that person lacks or doesn’t care about. It needs to be a strong character who understands the partner’s needs. Those are the people in the background holding the strings together.
If they can build a good bond and a level of trust, this can be a very successful team. However, that new partner needs to be strong, as such a relationship can break easily.
As you can read, there is space for everyone in the entrepreneurial sphere, as long as all parties understand that creating value for others is base of a successful venture.
I hope this gave you some food for thought. What is your type?