Top-Shelf Tip No. 101:

"What you do has far greater impact than what you say."

Stephen Covey

How Soft-Spoken Leaders Can Make A Big Impact

Many people still view leaders as loud and forceful people who smash down barriers and get things done. Those who don't speak up as loudly sometimes aren't viewed as leadership material. However, the quiet achievers might be your organization's best leaders.

Ben Brearley, creator of ThoughtfulLeader, has worked with many soft-spoken leaders, both male and female, and he asserts that there are some key advantages to this style. In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we examine why soft-spoken leaders make a big impact and how you can succeed as a leader, even if you don't have the loudest voice in the room.

People listen to soft-spoken leaders. Is there someone on your team who talks a lot-and everyone knows it? Eventually, people start tuning this person out. When someone who doesn't pipe up often has something to say, people listen. Brearley has found that soft-spoken leaders tend to be more selective with their input. They choose their words carefully and deliberately, rather than blasting the room just to make a point.

Soft-spoken leaders listen more. These individuals wait and listen before responding. When they speak, they've heard and processed the information and can often make a more thoughtful point than those who don't listen before chiming in. Those who primarily focus on talking aren't really listening.

Brearley offers four tips to succeed as a soft-spoken leader:

1. If you don't have anything to say, don't force a comment. Brearley admits that early in his career, he always felt like he needed to say something or pipe up in meetings. If you're speaking just to make yourself heard, you're not adding value.

2. Plan your communication to suit your strength. For many soft-spoken leaders, large meetings probably aren't the best communication forum. Instead, try using more intimate settings such as individual meetings. If you have some important information to share or need to influence a decision, try using smaller groups rather than trying to fight against the outspoken people in the room.

3. Do great work. It sounds obvious, but consistently doing great work gives you credibility. Credibility earns you respect. And when you have respect, your team is more likely to listen to you when you have something to say.

4. Reframe your thinking. While you might get labeled as "too quiet" or "not ambitious enough," Brearley encourages quieter professionals to reframe the way they think. When you tell yourself you're soft-spoken, this is a limiting belief. It limits you because you subconsciously think you should model the stereotypical leadership qualities such as being loud, bold or opinionated. If you don't speak often, this just means you're more selective when you do speak up. You don't pollute the air with words. You add value to the conversation.

Teams and organizations need all kinds of leaders. If you're a soft-spoken leader, embrace it and learn to make it work for you.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Ben Brearley is the creator of ThoughtfulLeader and is a leader, manager, MBA, coach and consultant passionate about developing considerate, thoughtful and effective leaders. Brearley has been leading teams for more than 15 years in many different industries.

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