Why introverted colour energies react differently to workplace change

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the multitude of events that cause workplace change.  

And even though it’s well documented that only a third of corporate change projects are successful*, the world of work somehow keeps changing. As employees and leaders, we simply have to adjust…  

But of course, it’s never quite that simple.  

Dealing with enforced change, like restructuring or digital transformation, on top of doing your regular job feels more disruptive to some than to others (if you're struggling with change in general, read our earlier post on colour energies and change).  

Here, we’ll zoom in on how change affects those who lead with introverted energies in particular, and what we, as leaders and colleagues, can do to appreciate the why, the how and the what next…


Change can affect introverted personalities differently  

It doesn’t help that major change is often spearheaded by leaders who are not equipped with the awareness and emotional intelligence needed to inspire their entire workforce to embrace the change.  

Here more than ever, teamwork and self-awareness are everything.


Why is the success rate of change programmes so low?

We’re humans, not headcount!

The reality is that when leaders are focusing hard on financial, structural, and strategic issues, they often overlook the human side of change, even though they too are human and may be suffering huge individual pressure in the quest for advancement.  

Having a clear, structured process and communication plan for major change is essential, yet when overwhelmed leaders fail to secure the employee buy-in they need to make the change work, the incoming change can feel like a loss of control and support. It can also feel personal when it’s not.  

Compounding the challenge…

Colleagues who lead with a lot of introverted colour energy will often understand and engage change differently than their more extroverted counterparts.  

If those who lead with introverted energy don’t get on board, they may become resistant, critical or risk averse. In turn, natural change-embracers may find themselves getting impatient when more cautious team members resist the new developments.  


What are the introverted and extroverted energies  

Psychologist Carl Jung believed that extroverts direct their energy outwards - towards other people - and gain energy from such encounters. Introverts focus their energy inwards, towards more solitary, thoughtful activities.  

At Insights we talk about having a preference for introversion or extroversion as defined by the different colour energies, but not ‘being’ one or the other.

Typically (not always), those who lead with Cool Blue (Thinking function, process-orientated) and Earth Green (Feeling function, people-orientated) energy lean towards a more introverted preference than those who lead with more extroverted preference include Fiery Red or Sunshine Yellow energy. Everyone has a unique mix.  Even if we lead with an introverted energy, our other colour energies will come into play.  

In times of change, it helps to become aware of how these different energies show up and how to mitigate the more ‘negative’ reactions we might experience.  

As team leaders, we can then help colleagues understand their reaction to stress, their preferred communication style when it comes to change, how they process information, and what motivates and engages them when change is underway.

The most overlooked key ingredient to the success of change initiatives is that people need to make their own personal transitions and adjustments for an organisation to truly reap the benefits of change.  

Unless we’re aware of how vastly different that process can look for different types of colleagues, we could be doomed from the start!


Understanding the change curve

Whichever way we lean on the introversion/extroversion scale, all change requires a transition process.  

Typically, it involves an Endings phase (letting go of the old), a Neutral Zone (realigning) and a New Beginnings chapter (reorientation through new roles, processes and renewed sense of purpose).  

The amount of time we each take in each phase varies based on the type of change we’re experiencing and on our personality.  

Understanding that others around us may be in a different phase is a huge part of effective teamwork during change.

If you are an initiator of change, you have had the opportunity to think about, plan for and be part of the transition process. But your employees are the recipients, and for them, embracing change may be more difficult, both because it is imposed upon them, and because they haven’t had time to make the internal adjustments that change requires.  

This is particularly true for more introverted preferences.

In the Ending phase, we might hear people say: “I didn’t see it coming”, “What will we do without X?”, “Nobody wanted this change”, or “Where does my role fit in now?”.  

In the neutral phase we might hear: “Well it might work, but I don’t quite see how” or “Nobody’s telling us anything”.  

And in the New Beginnings phase, even if there’s some enthusiasm, we still might hear “I’m not sure this what they wanted” or “We seem to be making more mistakes now.”

In a team going through change, you'll notice that although the team leaders have already reached the end stages of the change curve, their team members are scattered throughout various previous stages.   

The change curve

(to learn more about this curve, visit

The key is to actively help move your people through the various stages of the curve, so that individuals don’t become stuck, especially in one of the first three stages.  

Equip them with the information and time they need to accept the change and see it as necessary and positive for themselves, their team or the organisation.  

They may also want to know that the risks of change have been considered and that it is worth changing the status quo. This is particularly true for those who lead with more methodical (and introverted) Cool Blue energy.


Introverted colour energies during change - quiet resistance or wise reflection?

Even during the latter stages of the curve, those with a preference for introversion might still have questions and seem reluctant to adapt.  

Those who lead with Cool Blue or Earth Green energy prefer to process information in their own time, quietly and without constant office interruptions before sharing thoughts or making big decisions.  

They can feel exhausted when colleagues don’t know how to harness the gifts of introversion.  

Those with a preference for introversion aren’t necessarily opposed to change, it’s more that they may become overwhelmed when there is too much external noise and not enough space to contemplate the magnitude and potential impact (generally, and on their role and identity) of what’s coming their way.  

They generally prefer depth over breadth and are often great listeners and thinkers.  

They also may be more likely to imagine what could go wrong, and what they could lose as a result of an imposed change.


Cool Blue in times of change

People who lead with Cool Blue energy like to be able to visualise where the organisation will end up and have time to work out if it’s possible. It’s helpful to set out the details in written format so that they can reflect. If they feel the change is a good one, they will be enthused by the process.

Leading with the Thinking preference, they’ll focus on the ‘how’ of the change, the process, the potential complications and the contingencies for implementing change.

Earth Green in times of change

Those who lead with Earth Green are often driven by their own internal value system and need to be sure their values aren’t being violated. Perceiving the change to be fair is critical for their buy-in. Help them understand why the existing way is not working and what other options were considered. Earth Green colleagues need to trust in their organisation and leadership.

Leading with the Feeling preference, they may be concerned with seeking consensus, how everyone is collaborating and co-operating, and what the impact of the change will be on individuals in the team.


Coaching those who lead with introverted energy through change  

  • Help them visualise the possibilities, as opposed to being controlled by fear of uncertainty
  • Allow ‘percolation’ time: build in opportunities for questions and reassurance  
  • Respect the desire for quality and accuracy – they want to get it right and the detail is important
  • Allow space for discussion around the impact on individuals and team dynamics
  • Encourage the notion of calculated risks 
  • Finally, let’s not forget that change can be a great learning opportunity.  

Those who lead with introverted colour energies are often lifelong learners and like to constantly refine their beliefs and theories as well as their knowledge and skills.  

Embracing change does, after all, create genuine learning experiences for those committed to personal development and growth.  

Yes, some introverted colour energies may be prone to over-analyse and hesitate (paralysis by analysis) and this can mistakenly label them as resistant to change, but really, they’re simply equipping themselves with the facts and considering all eventualities before leaping into the new work reality.  

For those whose personas fall on the introversion side of the colour wheel, forewarned is forearmed, and with their groundwork complete, they may well emerge readier than most for the changes ahead!


To understand more about types of change, and the difference between change, transition and transformation, Insights new programme, Thriving Through Change, was designed for those organisations that have experienced Insights Discovery and are ready to support their people through that next step of thriving through change



*Hammer and Champy, Mark Hughes, McKinsey