Does silence make you uncomfortable? Do you feel the need to fill every void in the conversation? For us more talkative leaders (I’m looking at you, sales people!) we rarely find difficulty in filling the quiet space. In fact, many of us get reenergized when we get to meet and talk to new people!
Quieter leaders, on the other hand, are rarely like that. Quiet leaders aren’t troubled by a lack of conversation or a long silence, though sometimes talkative leaders are troubled by quiet leaders. In fact, quiet leaders can sometimes be mistaken as arrogant, antisocial, or ignorant by their chatty counterparts, and usually nothing is further from the truth (at least, not only because they are quiet).
Here are five reasons to embrace the quiet and the quiet leaders on your team:
- Quiet leaders are observant leaders. While everyone else is chatting it up, quiet leaders are content to sit back and observe. Because of this, your quiet leaders might be those most in-tune with the mood and any not-so-obvious challenges the team is facing.
- Their silence encourages others to speak up. This is especially true of those who may be hesitant to speak. It’s okay to allow the quiet to linger. You might get some insights you wouldn’t otherwise hear if you’re only concerned about filling the void.
- They know more than you think they know – and they have opinions too. But they might not be as aggressive when it comes to sharing their knowledge or opinions, so don’t overlook them. Just ask, “What are you thinking?” Then be silent and give them space to speak.
- Quiet leaders are eager to shine the spotlight on the rest of the team. Most quiet leaders don’t actively seek attention, so they have no problem allowing their team to take the credit and shine.
- When quiet leaders speak, others are more apt to listen. A quiet leader’s colleagues will quickly learn that if they’re willing to speak up and share their thoughts, others should probably pause and consider what they have to say.
Like every other leadership characteristic, knowing when to speak up and when to remain silent is a balancing act. We shouldn’t speak for the sake of speaking, yet there other moments when, if we don’t speak up, we’ve failed to lead. And remember, silence can speak loudly too, so take care not to miss the value of your quiet leaders.