Does mentoring favour extroverted learners?

by Brett Henebery16 May 2017
Research shows that extroverted learners are the most likely to develop positive mentoring relationships, which in turn enhances their chances for career success.

The study – titled: Linking Extroversion and Proactive Personality to Career Success – was published in the University of Missouri’s Journal of Career Development.

In a statement, University of Missouri Professor Daniel Turban – one of the study's authors – said the study supports research showing that mentoring has a positive impact on employees’ success.

“Those who are extroverted and have a proactive personality are naturally more likely to develop mentor relationships, which can help new employees understand their company's corporate culture and advance within a company,” Turban said.

“Our results were consistent with our theorising that individuals high in proactive personality and extroversion would be more likely to seek mentoring and also would be perceived as more attractive potential protégés.”

While developing mentor relationships might come more naturally to extroverts, introverted learners shouldn't feel less confident because of their personality, according to the study’s authors.

However, research published last year provided insights into the sometimes complex role that the introvert/extrovert dynamic plays in the workplace.

According to two studies from researchers at Oregon State University, the University of Florida and University of Notre Dame, introverts less likely to give extroverts credit for work performed, or endorse them for advancement opportunities.

So while extroverts might have a better chance of developing successful mentoring relationships, they are perceived as less productive.

In order to ensure that such attitudes don’t derail a harmonious workplace, Turban encouraged a culture of peer-to-peer mentoring.

In particular, the researchers from the University of Missouri study say that employers can achieve this by cultivating a climate that encourages informal developmental relationships and continuous learning.

“In particular, organizations should attempt to develop a climate of psychological safety, which allows employees to take risks and ask questions without fear of recrimination, resulting in increased individual learning,” the study's authors wrote.


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