Can I be a good leader if I’m soft spoken and considerate?
There are leaders who shout and cajole, belittle and demean their subordinates. These leaders are visible and they always produce results. Whether or not those results are good outcomes is something else entirely.
Being soft spoken and considerate is an advantage to leaders in conducting genuine leadership. Why?
Step 1: Genuine leaders need to listen to their people. Listen to understand, not simply to respond. If you do not listen to your people, you cannot lead them effectively. Your people will value the fact that you listen to them and accept their feedback. This part of leadership is less about what you say than it is about what you don’t say.
Step 2: When you speak, say what is important, and mean what you say. You don’t need to use many words and you don’t need to deliver them loudly or in caustic fashion. You do need to express ideas and directives clearly, set expectations in understandable terms, but you do not need to shout to accomplish this.
Step 3: Always consider “The Triangle.” I often talk about the three points of the triangle that managers must serve: your Employees, your Customers and your Employer. A considerate leader looks to achieve wins for all three as often as possible. When employees and the customers both win, the employer most often does as well. When you demonstrate to your people that you take their needs into consideration when making decisions, even when you cannot give them what they want they will respect your decisions more.
Step 4: Be assertive when needed. This may be the hardest part because while you can be soft spoken and considerate, you cannot be timid or lacking in conviction. Your people are counting on you and if you let yourself be rolled over by events or other forces, your people will be left to face the full force of the hardships that come their way. Stand firm when you need to do so, and advocate for what’s best for your people, your customers, and the company. There are times to compromise and times to be wrong and change course, but do not fold at the first sign of resistance or opposition.
Step 5: Lead by example. Don’t lose your cool, and demonstrate your commitment to getting things done with your actions. Your people will find themselves working hard to live up to the example you set and their greatest fear won’t be that you yell at them… it will be that they disappoint you.
None of these things require a person to be loud, crude, heartless or abusive to their staff. Hopefully, for anyone in a position of leadership, they are all useful tools.
This question originally appeared on Quora: Can I be a good leader if I’m soft spoken and considerate?