The need to speak up has never been more important than at this very moment in our lives, and the interpretation of one’s silence can take many forms, as we are seeing.

Silence in leadership is perceived in many different ways: for some, it’s absolutely wonderful to work for someone who leaves them alone and allows the team to ride on a cruise control of averageness; for some, it feels empowering to appear more vocal when in the same room with their silent leader, giving the impression they ought to be the leader instead; and for some, the complete absence of input is the direct contributor to their constant anxiety and fear for their future.

In each of these scenarios, inevitably something bad comes from working for a silent leader. Cruise controllers unexpectedly get slapped with poor reviews, or worse. Those with bravado are coined as ‘threats’ and might be made redundant from the executive levels. And worst of all, the anxious bunch has lingering bouts of stress-related mental and health issues.

Scott Gregory recently wrote a piece in HBR about Absentee Leadership, which is potentially the most harmful version of incompetent and destructive leadership.  According to the article,  Research shows that being ignored by one’s boss is more alienating than being treated poorly. The impact of absentee leadership on job satisfaction outlasts the impact of both constructive and overtly destructive forms of leadership.”

I would add there’s also the Conveniently Absent group of Leaders – you’ve seen them, the ones who constantly disappoint by their selectivity of staff and matters they wish to speak to, and play aloof to the rest. It’s almost like a parent favoring a child, or a coach focusing only on the one player….anything good that comes from that is temporary for the benefactor, but mostly, this affects everyone else in a bad way, for a much longer period.

Organizations cannot afford to ignore their leaders not stepping up to the plate. Successful leaders work for their staff, are inclusive, speak to truth and are effective. The lack of retention of successfully talented leaders is a metric top officials should never take lightly. As the article states, “The war for leadership talent is real, and organizations with the best leaders will win”.

Read the full HBR article  here.


Read more from Damla or visit the home of Arya Effective.

Tags: Damla Zeybel, ARYA Effective, ARYA,, company culture

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