The Power of Quiet Leadership

Despite what we’ve seen in movies and literature in the 1990s and early 2000s, One does not need to be loud and extrovert to be a respected and efficient leader.
If we look good enough, we are seeing a shift. 
Gone (or going) are the day’s leaders were expected to show up, lay out the vision, and return to their (corner) office. 
Today teams are expecting leaders that will work with them hand in hand. Not only talk the talk but walk alongside them. 
Some do. Some manage to walk more than they talk. That is often referred to as Quiet leadership: instead of directing you invite people to join you as you work with them (as defined by author Karen Grosz
Grosz talks about leading with appreciation rather than expectations, celebrating what you want to see repeated until it becomes the norm, and the ability to listen when nothing is being said. 
This might seem strange to many, but when done well, it can be very effective.
Quiet leadership is a conscious choice to lead with a focus on being open-minded and gentle. It’s about being approachable, liked, respected, compassionate – nice, if you will – and communicating with people using a one-on-one approach instead of the typical one-on-many format. (source)
Author David Rock gives six main aspects of Quiet Leadership: 
  1. Increase self-awareness. It is only by knowing themselves well, their skills, and their flaws that leaders will be able to lead well. 
  2. Tame the inner voice. This means that leaders have to work hard to stay as unbiased as possible and quiet their preconceived ideas to remain fair. 
  3. Manage focus. It is the role of the leader to help their team members focus on the appropriate tasks and clear goals. 
  4. Promote insight: it is not the role of the leader to give all the answers. A quiet leader should encourage their staff to take ownership of their journey towards the solution by asking the right questions.
  5. Support autonomy. Similarly, quiet leaders allow for autonomy within their team and celebrate engagement and innovation. 
  6. Develop new thinking habits. Rather than protecting “the way things have always been done,”  a quiet leader will encourage the development of new ideas and habits for everyone’s personal and professional growth. 
The term quiet might have a negative connotation for some. But it does not mean being “too nice” or even passive, as critics might say. It simply means that the leader puts the team at the center, and within that team, chooses to give space for each individual to blossom and share their unique skills and qualities. To do so, the leader takes a step back from the microphone and gives the stage to the employees, all the while still guiding the steering wheel. 
Quiet leaders believe that by nurturing the individual it will make the team stronger and encourage innovation and collaboration. 
The reason we are exploring quiet leadership today is that we believe it can have a positive impact on mental well-being in the workplace. 
As it promotes personal growth, deep listening, and self-awareness, quiet leadership can certainly support a healthier work environment by reducing work-induced stress, anxiety, or pressure through:
  • fostering psychological safety (people feel more safe sharing their thoughts and ideas)
  • Empowering the individual (people want to feel like they can contribute and be part of something)
  • Individual Growth (by helping the individual, the quiet leader helps the team)
  • Increase collaboration (by practicing deep listening, people are more at ease sharing and asking for help)
Where do I start?
This way of leading is accessible to everyone, but it will, of course, be easier to adopt quiet leadership if you tend to be familiar with these approaches:
  • You are fine with showing compassion
  • You prefer the one-on-one approach rather than the one-size-fits-all
  • You have no problem admitting when you are wrong or do not know something. You can ask for help 
  • You observe and notice. You pay attention and listen to introverts and extroverts alike. 
  • You give support and guidance rather than ready-made answers
There are many flavors of leadership, and there too, the size fits all concept does not work. 
At Siffi, we believe that everyone, given the right support and guidance, can find their way to lead and be led, which will create the best environment for professional and personal growth. We also understand that finding those ways might demand some trial and error and we support companies and their teams through that journey. 
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