Business

Saying the Quiet Part Out Loud

While silent leadership is easy to overlook, it can play a key role in forming deeper and more meaningful connections with work crews, subcontractors, clients, suppliers and stakeholders.
By Tracy Winn
June 4, 2024
Topics
Business

While bold and assertive leadership styles remain valuable for fostering collaboration and team engagement, the leadership landscape is broadening to recognize the equally valuable contributions of “silent leadership.” These leaders, known for their strategic thinking and focus on results, offer a complementary approach that is proving highly effective in achieving business goals.

In the construction industry, silent leaders possess a unique ability to inspire and guide crew members through their quiet strength, thoughtful actions and calm demeanor. Yet, on worksites, silent leaders are frequently overlooked in favor of individuals with more overt leadership styles.

BRIDGING COMMUNICATION GAPS

The adage “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” often rings true. While extroverted leaders may naturally attract more attention, silent leaders—who are often more introverted—can easily go unnoticed. But silent leaders are generally more strategic, often listening and observing before making decisions or forming opinions.

And while extroverted leaders may excel at networking, speaking engagements and motivating teams, silent leaders excel in fostering an inclusive environment where every voice is heard and valued. These qualities can attract and retain diverse talent who value a supportive and empowering work environment.

Both leadership styles can have a positive impact on your organization, for different reasons. But in this article, we’ll focus on silent leaders and how they can help you build a supportive and empowering work environment, so you can attract and retain diverse talent.

When given the opportunity, silent leaders can wield more influence than you might expect. Due to their positive and thoughtful demeanor, they can create a calm and inclusive work environment built on honesty and open communication. And because they’re focused on others, silent leaders are able to form deeper and more meaningful connections with work crews, subcontractors, clients, suppliers and stakeholders. This promotes trust within your company and allows team members to feel comfortable voicing their needs and concerns—leading to improved team morale, safety, health and wellness, and productivity.

Silent leaders can also help you clarify project goals, objectives and expectations. By providing clear direction and guidance, they encourage accountability, minimize misunderstandings and confusion, and generally create an environment of effective communication and collaboration throughout the project lifecycle.

RECOGNIZING SILENT LEADERS

Recognizing the contributions of any leader is necessary to nurture their unique talents and foster continuous growth. However, silent leaders rarely seek out recognition, and they tend to focus on the success of the collective. But that doesn’t mean they don’t need or benefit from positive reinforcement. It’s important to bring the focus back on them as an individual contributor, expressing gratitude and appreciation for their meaningful work and reinforcing the value they bring to your organization.

Effectively incentivizing silent leaders will look different than it does for their more vocal counterparts. By nature, they are strategic planners, driven by rewards that are tied to performance and results. They also appreciate clear metrics that show the impact of their work. When silent leaders excel, it’s a good idea to offer opportunities for advancement within the organization, whether through promotions, monetary increases or new challenges and responsibilities. Providing clear pathways for career progression demonstrates your commitment to their long-term growth.

  • You can further reward silent leaders and optimize their impact by:
  • Asking them to join a committee
  • Implementing their ideas
  • Assigning special projects that speak to their interests
  • Offering development opportunities

MENTORSHIP AND SUPPORT

Like most employees, a silent leader can benefit from the support and guidance of a mentor. Consider choosing someone who can empower them to refine their communication, decision-making and conflict-resolution skills. It’s also important that the mentor you choose is able to serve as a catalyst for confidence-building—offering encouragement and constructive feedback that enables your silent leader to embrace their role with assurance.

With the construction industry constantly evolving and digital transformation, regulations and market trends shaping the landscape, silent leaders may need support to stay up-to-date on developments, so they can adapt their leadership approach accordingly. A mentor who is knowledgeable about industry trends and best practices can provide valuable insights and guidance on navigating change and driving innovation.

Silent leaders may also face challenges with complex, large-scale projects. A mentor who has successfully navigated such projects can provide valuable insights into project-management strategies, engaging stakeholders and mitigating risks.

While silent leaders excel at strategic thinking and delivering results, their quiet nature can sometimes mask their need for guidance and support. A mentor can fill that need—by offering alternative or proven approaches to challenges based on their experiences and providing accountability and support, helping silent leaders navigate obstacles and stay focused on their goals.

A MIX OF STYLES

While silent leadership offers distinct advantages, a more balanced approach that embraces all leadership styles is essential. In the construction industry, where collaboration and adaptability are key, leveraging a diverse range of leadership qualities—from the quiet strategist to the vocal motivator—can create the right environment for success.

In addition, fostering an environment where individuals are encouraged to leverage their unique strengths promotes inclusivity and fuels innovation. And embracing a mix of leadership styles enables your company to create dynamic and resilient workforces capable of navigating whatever challenges may come your way.

by Tracy Winn
Tracy Winn is a senior client success manager for G&A Partners. For more information, visit gnapartners.com.

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