Silent Leadership Is About Inspiring Management

You might think that "silent" is the last thing you'd expect in leadership. However, it's the quality of the future. A good leader is honest, empathetic, reflective, and observant and trusts in the potential and abilities of their employees.
Silent Leadership Is About Inspiring Management

Last update: 30 June, 2021

Silent leadership is gaining ground in a scenario mostly inhabited by directive and even authoritarian figures. Gone are the bosses used to giving orders and setting their own work dynamic. In fact, the iron fist that defined entrepreneurs like Henry Ford or Steve Jobs is fading as other philosophies arise.

The figure of today’s leaders needs reformulating due to the worldwide crisis. The current scenario full of uncertainty and instability requires a different type of management that can instill confidence. Moreover, managers and bosses defined by the silent leadership tendency have specific qualities that inspire others.

As you can imagine, the high-pressure tactics of absolute domination and lack of flexibility are becoming obsolete in professional organizations. There’s a need for enthusiasm, not fear. Thus, more humble and less narcissistic leaders can help projects move forward by making work teams feel comfortable and united in the same goal.

Continue reading to find out more about this new trend.

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”

-John C. Maxwell-

A person on top of a tower.

Silent versus vertical authoritarian leadership

A silent leader isn’t shy, withdrawn, or invisible in a company. What defines these people is the way they behave and act in their work environment.

As we mentioned above, it’s necessary to reformulate the fading type of leadership because it isn’t as effective as most people thought.

The failures of many companies originate in the personality of top management entities. Not so long ago, promotions took into consideration extroversion, charisma, high-pressure tactics, and dominance, etc. However, the classic model of vertical and authoritarian leadership has only led to losses at all levels:

  • An authoritarian leader inoculates the company with chronic stress and dissatisfaction.
  • It also hinders employee development. Thus, human capital dilutes and work teams can’t show their potential because they lack autonomy.

However, this changes with the advent of silent leadership. This is because the work climate that promotes the “silent” top management is based on trust and empathy. It consists of viewing the worker as an ally in order to achieve the best results.

The characteristics of silent leadership

The secret of a successful leader is to have committed followers. In other words, any manager who wants to get their project going must have people who believe in them. This isn’t easy to achieve.

Silent leadership seeks to inspire through humility and competence and to instill self-improvement and innovation through trust.

Here are some of the characteristics that define silent leaders.

Silent leadership is about commitment to people as much as to a project

A good leader not only has a series of short- and long-term business goals in mind. People at the top of a company know that none of these aspirations are possible without employees and teams.

This is why the first dimension that defines silent leadership is the commitment to human capital, aware that investing in people is what makes the difference in any company. Creating respectful, innovative, and nurturing environments in terms of stimulation, incentives, and respect is what allows a company to succeed.

Delegating is about trusting

Delegating responsibility is one of the basic foundations of any work environment. It isn’t only an act of recognition by the leader, but also a priority strategy with which to place trust in all teams to be competitive. As you can see, it’s about recognizing the unique potential of every employee.

This way, the leader won’t always have to be present at every step and decision. Thus, delegating is the talent of placing responsibilities on the shoulders of your employees because you already know they’re capable of doing great things.

Senior leaders applying humility and empathy

Studies such as those conducted by Dr. Svetlana Holt and Dr. Joan Marques from Woodbury University in California are reminders of the effects of “corporate psychopathy“. Psychologist Robert Hare once defined it as corporate violence.

The “iron fist” strategy and authoritarianism invalidate the productivity and well-being of all the human capital of a company.

Instead, empathy and humility can change the current paradigm. In fact, this is something to encourage. Silent leadership integrates these two dimensions and applies them to its environment on a daily basis.

A person enjoying the view.

Being calm and reflecting in the midst of chaos

Any leader who isn’t used to situations of uncertainty, crisis, and even chaos hasn’t yet evolved in the business world. Silent leadership is like being a stalk of bamboo in the midst of the storm: it can face, adapt to, and grow with it.

They exercise leadership from the silence of someone who observes reflectively and who’s learned to manage emotions and be resilient. Furthermore, this position and attitude in the face of difficulties is a source of inspiration for the entire company.

Silent revolutions have succeeded in the past

Finally, people were used to an extroverted type of leadership that makes many uncomfortable. However, history is full of people who’ve changed the world from their more discreet and even silent position.

In fact, Gandhi and Rosa Parks perfectly fit this profile, as their introversion is quite characteristic of silent leadership. Although they didn’t make a lot of noise, they inspired others.

It might interest you...
Transformational Leadership
Exploring your mind
Read it in Exploring your mind
Transformational Leadership

Transformational leadership is an extremely important concept. A transformational leader is both inspirational and motivational.



  • Holt, Svetlana & Marques, Joan. (2012). Empathy in Leadership: Appropriate or Misplaced? An Empirical Study on a Topic That is Asking for Attention. Journal of Business Ethics. 105. 95-105. 10.1007/s10551-011-0951-5.