Silence Is Golden

I remember growing up and seeing leaders who would yell, scream, and shout to make their point. Sometimes they were even red in the face.

Do you remember leaders like this?

Mouth of person shouting

Image By Alisha Varga

True, they were passionate about their cause. They wanted to share what they knew with the audience. Yet something about them was off-putting.

Nothing about them made me want to get to know them as a person.

What Shouting Says

There’s a lot of noise in our world today. Many people think the way to get over the noise is to shout their message even louder. Crank up the volume and make sure others hear you.

When you begin to shout your mission, you begin to send another message.

  • You’re desperate
  • You just want to be heard
  • You’re disruptive (in a negative way)

Somewhere there’s a breakdown in communication.

Shouting tells the world, and your followers, you don’t know how to gain attention otherwise. And once your followers have heard enough of your shouting, they’ll begin to fall away.

Why Silence (Or Less Volume) Is Golden

This doesn’t sound right, you may be saying. But take a minute and listen to my reasoning.

Silence shows many things. One of those is that you’re confident in who you are as a leader. You’re able to share your message without a lot of noise.

People can tell when someone knows their message. And believes in it.

Sure, you’ll talk about your message. You’ll share your message. You’ll even get worked up about the message. But you won’t try to shout it over the masses.

You’ll let your message speak for itself.

When you’re willing to tone down the volume, more people will listen. You’ll also be able to lead in a more powerful way.

How To Lead Silently

When you decide to turn down the volume and stop screaming your message, you have to figure out a way to lead silently.

The best way I’ve found to lead silently, yet in a way no one can ignore, is to lead by example.

Take up the tasks that need to be done. Show others what needs to be done and how to do it. Lead silently but let your example scream.

As you’re able to do this, you’ll find more and more people following you and taking action in their lives. It won’t have been your words. Those will have been mostly silent.

The true change will have come from your shining example.

Question: When have you stayed silent and let your example do the talking? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • I had to learn to stay silent at home and allow my wife and children see my example of being a loving husband and a caring fathers. Previously, I had done more talking than demonstration.

    • Great lesson to learn Bernard. Our example will outshine our words every time.

  • Allen

    At the office, I am more of a silent leader as I don’t feel the need to let anyone know who is responsible for what, etc., Have had some managers indicate they didn’t like my style but I’ve have more employees and coworkers be complimentary of the quiet style when they are learning new items or when they goof up.  They’ve said it shows more respect to them, especially in a goof!   

    • Allen, it’s interesting to hear stories like that, where the employees feel they’re more respected because of less intervention and letting them do their work in peace and other managers complain about it. Why do you think this is the case?

  • I remember this used to be one of my major mistakes during my early leadership days. I figured if I shouted loud enough people would get it and do their job. But now, I have no problems staying quiet. Many times it will show people how foolish they are when you don’t react by shouting.  

    • That’s so true. People will soon realize they’re being foolish if you decline to engage in the silly and petty shouting matches. Glad you learned this lesson!

  • This is such an important topic in today’s noise world. To really lead and have an impact is done through our example or creating/producing our art. Great post Joe!   

    • Thanks Dan. Too many people think it’s better to be extremely noisy than to yield to calm and quiet.

  • CrowdCrux

    I like the idea of a quiet leader, but at the same time I think it really depends on the group of people they are leading and their mission. Some people need life breathed into them and to be shaken awake with a louder type of leader, like self-help leaders (Tony Robbins). 

    There are a lot of people in the startup world who like to talk a lot of talk. I try to do my best to be humble, stay quite, and let my actions speak for me. If people like my products and services, they will buy them. If they don’t, it’s my job to make them better. 🙂

    • You’ve hit on part of the difficulties of leadership and, even, life. We’ve got to be attuned to the needs of others and how we communicate to them. Sometimes there will be a need to be loud and extremely vocal. It’s deciding when and how to use the techniques that will determine the quality of your leadership.

  • It’s a balancing act for me.  At my office, I am the youngest leader in a management position.  There are times when my silence is about learning.  There are times when my silence is about respect.  But there are times when I must learn to speak up.  So while I agree that silence can be golden.  It’s important to know when to speak up.

    In James it says, be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.  Many leaders could learn a lot by following these words.

    • Very true!

    • Jon, thanks of sharing. Like the rest of life, it’s one of those things where it doesn’t have to be an either/or but a both/and. 

  • It is extremely important to speak up – but agree that it isn’t necessary to shout. The leadership of most companies will not allow a “silent majority” and wants people who share their opinions (otherwise they don’t need all those employees in the first place). My experience has been that those who rely on shouting have positional leadership only.

    • Exactly Tom. There needs to be a balance. You don’t have to be loud and noisy. But you do need to say what needs to be said. 

  • Joe,

    In July 12 I changed positions and was assigned to the personal staff of a senior leader in the Army.  Our staff is small but very competent, however, no one was getting properly evaluated.  For the leaders junior to me I spoke with and told them what I expected.  I expected monthly evaluations, period!  If you weren’t doing them you are now I said.

    Then I started evaluating those leaders.  I wish I could say I was not loud and screaming at first, I was probably very upset because we had neglected the basics of leadership.  However, I soon realized sometimes it is just better to set the example silently.

    • Thanks for sharing your example TJ. It’s amazing what the power of being the example can do. Now that they see you setting the example, are they doing what’s expected?

      • Joe,

        While we “are not there yet” I am pleased with the changes we have made. It has been a learning experience for me as well!

        • Awesome TJ. Glad you’re seeing results and things are changing. Keep it up buddy!

  • What we believen in is evidenced by how we live more than by what we say.