When we think of leadership styles, we often think about gregarious, animated, vocal-type leaders, but have we given much thought to the quiet leader? Being in communications, we know that probably the most overlooked and most important part of effective communications is the listening part. And this is a quality I believe quiet leaders excel in. 

As I reflect back on my own career, I think about the leaders I’ve followed and have found that I myself have responded best to the quiet variety. In fact, I can say that oftentimes larger than life leaders have annoyed me. I guess that’s why I fashion my leadership style to that of the quiet leader. 

Perhaps quiet leaders have grown in popularity because they don’t fly off the handle when things don’t go as well as they should, and they are able to stay calm, cool and collected in times of crisis. Quiet leaders are also powerful as they focus on actions instead of words. They are able to generate excitement, encourage ownership, and develop loyalty in those under their guidance (Gregory, 2010).

That loyalty is won in large part by being open to constructive criticism, being open-minded, and being able to admit when you’re wrong. This is not something easy to do all of the time, but we can certainly strive for this most of the time. Sometimes we do know best considering we have the many years of experiences under our belt.   

Looking back at our history books, Abraham Lincoln was an example of a quiet, impactful leader. He accepted advice but also followed his own instinct whenever he thought it wise. Other quiet leaders of recent times that have commanded the respect and admiration of many include Bill Gates of Microsoft, Mary Barra of General Motors and Warren Buffett, founder of Berkshire Hathaway, just to name a few. 

The point of this article is not to say one leadership style is better than the other. The idea behind this is to consider how we can all benefit from learning from these quiet, introspective leaders who can be just as powerful. It’s worth mentioning that you can be introspective and still be a powerful, vocal leader – quality over quantity I suppose. 

What leadership style do you find most effective? Do you lead quietly or find that an increase in volume gets better results? There’s probably a good middle ground, too.  

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