The new leader: less brash, more quiet
Leadership StrategiesLeadershipDevelopment and TransitionExecutive Search
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November 15, 2018
Leadership StrategiesLeadershipDevelopment and TransitionExecutive Search

The Globe and Mail

The Globe and Mail article, “The new leader: less brash, more quiet,” was written by Russell Reynolds Associates Consultants Lisa Porlier and Adela Yang on the growing importance of possessing “quiet” leadership traits in order to balance the “loud” traits that are typically associated with successful leaders. Their byline is excerpted below. 

Millennials entering the work force should understand that aspiring to hold a C-Suite title means embracing typically “quiet” characteristics. 

We recently assessed the president of a global industrial company. He was a strong leader with superior intellectual horsepower, a genius for strategic thinking, the resilience to tackle impossible challenges and a 24/7 work ethic. Yet, in some respects, he was failing miserably. 

He missed the birth of his first son because of work. His team felt deeply unsatisfied and often demotivated, because they were not given sufficient autonomy to fully utilize their talents. All of this stemmed from the president’s belief that a leader needs to be bold and strong – a belief that was a key driver behind his success, but also his shortcomings. 

Companies often favour leaders such as this president: people with “loud” personality characteristics such as extroversion, passion and charisma. Our recent analysis of global chief executive role specifications showed that these “loud” words were used three times more often than those describing “quiet” characteristics, such as humility, authenticity and listening. 

And research has long shown that high-potential and leadership-development programs tend to be filled with rising stars who stand out by demonstrating such outwardly observable personality traits. 

These archetypal loud leadership traits have certainly produced great leaders. But the current business climate suggests that they may not be sufficient to make the best leaders for the future – especially given the increasing volatility, speed of change, disruption and transformation they will have to master. 

The most effective leaders possess not only the loud traits that allow them to cast big visions and persuade others to follow, but they equally demonstrate the quiet traits that allow them to be vulnerable and connect with others. These leaders know when and how to balance their loud and quiet characteristics to meet the business challenges in a specific situation. 

These findings are often surprising to older millennials who are being considered for C-Suite titles, as well as newly appointed or soon-to-be CEOs. The industrial company president came to understand that leaders become stronger when they are willing to show vulnerability. He began to ask for help and allow others to take the lead when necessary. Within a year, his team’s performance materially stepped up. The executive also increased time spent over the weekend with his family and even started to golf again. 

To read the full article, click here.