Have you ever heard the phrase “quiet leaders”? This is a leadership style whose description may seem much more familiar than its name. Quiet leaders can be described as “managers who apply modesty, restraint, and tenacity to solve particularly difficult problems.” (Lagace, M.)
Badaracco (2003) explains, “Everyday work life is full of right-versus-right decisions. In fact, it sometimes seems that these hard trade-offs are delegated downward from bosses to people in the middle of organizations. In these cases, it does little good to tell people to screw up their courage and do the right thing. The essence of the problem is that several right things—obligations to owners, employees, communities and one’s own values—are clashing with each other. Quiet leaders also recognize the full complexity and uncertainty that govern so much of life and work today.” He goes on to offer five basic guidelines for quiet leaders:
Five Basic Guidelines
- Don’t Kid Yourself – “…make plenty of room for the unexpected.”
- Have Some Skin in the Game – “…look for ways to channel self-interest in ways that also serve others.”
- Buy Time – “Time gives people a chance to assess their real obligations and gives sound instincts a chance to emerge.”
- Drill Down – “…into the full complexities of the problem…”
- Bend the Rules and Look for Compromises – “Responsible behaviour in some difficult situations requires a little wiggle room.”
How does the concept of the quiet leader spark your thoughts about leadership? Is this a style that describes you or a leader you work with? Is it a style you find appealing?
Taking a moment to explore different or unfamiliar leadership styles can be a great way to learn and grow as a leader. It can also be a way to reenergize a leadership journey.