3 Reasons Why You Might Want to Consider Being a Quiet Leader

Especially in agency environments where creativity flourishes with a more thoughtful approach

A empty conference table; at the end of the conference table is a man with his hands in his pockets looking out the window at a city
Not all leaders need to be outspoken and extroverted.
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There’s no question that we are living in extremely loud times. In business, politics, popular culture and even advertising, the biggest and brashest voices are the ones that often command the stage. It is understandable then that the most dominant personalities are thought to make the best leaders.

But whatever happened to a quieter, more thoughtful approach?

It should be noted that there’s a big difference between being quiet and being silent. Silence may be golden, but not in business. A number of books, magazine articles and research studies have explored this topic, many reaching the same conclusion that the hard-charging boss isn’t always the best boss.

A study by The Harvard Business Review based on 17,000 assessments of C-suite executives found that while those charged with hiring people to run companies tend to gravitate toward “charismatic extroverts,” it is introverted bosses who end up performing better in the eyes of corporate boards. Modern-day captains of industry such as Bill Gates, Tim Cook and Warren Buffett have been hailed as examples of quiet leaders.

Quiet leadership is an intentional way to behave that comes from a position of strength, not weakness, and serves as a counterweight to the booming voices competing for attention.

Quiet leadership is an intentional way to behave that comes from a position of strength, not weakness, and serves as a counterweight to the booming voices competing for attention. It enables a leader to actively listen to others, which is essential in an industry whose mission is connecting with clients, understanding their needs and helping them make decisions about the creative expression of their brands.

Here are three reasons why quiet leaders make for the best leaders.

Elicit deeper engagement from teams

How can you expect to hear what your people have to say if you’re too busy yapping? It all just becomes so much white noise.

Listening gives one the headspace to think before speaking and acting. It may well be one of the most underappreciated leadership traits there is. Words matter, and a leader should be mindful about the words they use to communicate. What’s more, listening also enables one to pay attention to what’s not being said, something that very often provides useful clues about the motivations of others.

Empower others to be their best

Quiet leaders are secure enough to not be the loudest voices in the room. They see the value in giving their people a voice, letting them have the stage and enabling their talents and skills to shine through.

According to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, the quiet leader is the embodiment of the INFJ personality type, which encompasses the traits of introversion, intuition, feeling and judgment. These individuals, as one description puts it, “are often quiet and unassuming but win the dedication of others through their own hard work, strong principles and inspiring ideas.”

In other words, quiet leaders lead not by decree but by example.

This is the embodiment of the philosophy of Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori, who believed children learn best when they are allowed to develop as independent, creative individuals. “Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed,” she famously said, inspiring people everywhere to remember that our job as leaders is not to tell others how to do their jobs but to create an environment for their success.

Produce better results

In a lab experiment a few years back, The Harvard Business Review set out to test whether introverted or extroverted bosses got better performance out of their employees. What they learned is that introverts as leaders tended to listen more to their employees and make them feel more valued, which in turn led to better performance. Extroverted leaders, the study found, “appeared threatened by and unreceptive to proactive employees.”

In a competitive business environment, don’t we all want to encourage the best performance among our employees and make them feel valued? Quiet leadership is of particular value, not only in our own industry but also in any business that cares about fostering a home for creativity.

Now, listen. Hear that? It’s the sound of your fortunes rising as a result of quiet leadership.

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