Loner or team player?
More than ever before, innovation is the result of interaction between disciplines. Team players are needed. But loners too have their advantages.
Within technology companies, teams are diverse both in terms of culture and specialist skills. In photonics, for example, physicists and other scientists work with engineers from the fields of electrical/mechanical engineering and telecommunications, IT specialists and business managers. Innovation is based on combined knowledge and openly sharing skills.
This is why companies look for communicative team players who also offer a broad, sound basic knowledge of a number of specialist areas. But who really matches that kind of ideal?—People's journeys through life and characters are at least as varied as their disciplines and cultures.
The good news for the more introvert specialists is that they too are in demand. If questioned, HR developers admit that extrovert, curious applicants have better job opportunities because they can be deployed both in the back office and in positions where they have contact with customers. However, quieter types too are in demand for research and development and for many administrative roles.
Some companies now even look specifically for highly-qualified loners who focus on tricky tasks, whose above-average scientific creativity enriches teams, and who develop great awareness of their responsibilities and loyalty to the company as soon as they have settled in. It's then the responsibility of the project managers and team leaders to incorporate the skills of the loners, to build bridges to the team and to also manage this aspect of diversity.
However, this doesn't mean carte blanche for loners. If HR managers get the impression that their reserve is coupled with arrogance or over-estimation of their abilities, the partnership won't last very long.