I work in a very highly technical field.  I’d say it’s pretty safe to say that most engineers are not exactly outgoing or gregarious.  In fact, most of them can be downright antisocial.  They are introverts, quiet, and they are leaders.  In fact, some of the quietest people I know are the best leaders.  People flock to them for advice, and mentoring.  In short, leadership isn’t always loud.

How so, do you ask?  Well, stop and think about what leadership is.  Leadership is about influencing others to do something, to follow something, to swim in the right direction, and sometimes it’s about herding cats.  That means that someone can have a ton of influence and influencing power, through their relationships, and through their actions, even if they are very quiet about it.  In fact, some of the people I respect the most are the quiet kind.  They lead by thoughtful and careful example.

I think that the word “leadership” is one of the hottest buzzwords these days.  Companies are creating Leadership programs, left and right.  Leadership is a skill that people have to possess to advance in their careers.  But exactly what “leadership” means is fuzzy.  Does it mean someone who strong-arms their way in?  Or someone with influence, getting the job done?  How exactly do you define leadership?  Does your definition mean that someone has to be outgoing and loud?  If so, that might be overlooking a lot of really great talent, that just happens to be more introverted.

What do you think about leadership?