There is no ‘one size fits all’ in retail decision making. Every company has its own hit list of attributes for senior staff.

The things required from leaders can change over time too, particularly when your retail company faces a period of intense pressure, or needs to step up risk-taking, innovation and change management.

Organisations often turn to their loudest voices for direction and reassurance; the individuals who exude confidence, talk-the-talk and are brimming over with good ideas in comparison to passive colleagues.

However, could times of great pressure be when ‘quiet’ leadership attributes are more important?

Leaders who listen

One of the potential reasons why some senior managers seem more introverted and restrained, is that they use their listening skills more intensely. They’re the ones who spend time gathering the views and ideas of staff, suppliers and customers, investing in getting the best out of project teams.

Feeling ignored, marginalised and under-appreciated is the leading cause for people to change jobs. It stands to reason that a leader who listens, even in times of heightened urgency, earns more loyalty and engagement.

Time for critical analysis

A quiet leader is also potentially one making more ‘headspace’ for research and thorough critical analyse before making recommendations or taking action. They’re decision-makers willing to accept their own ability (and need) to learn and develop, constantly evaluating new information.

Dynamism and charism have their place in modern retail management, but so do managers who embrace times of solitude to collate and analyse relevant business information, creating detailed road maps for change.

They could be the solvers of deeper issues, and the data wizards who find cool-headed long term solutions.

Heightened empathy

Much has been written on the topic of emotional intelligence in modern leadership, and empathy used to build agile and fruitful relationships.

Quiet leaders may be more open-minded, and likeable, as opposed to being persuasive and inspirational. They could invest more in earning the respect of their team and being relatable, and less on impressing their superiors.

Relationship of trust

The attributes of a quiet leader could mean they hear about problems much earlier and gather staff ideas for innovations and improvements. Not least as they are senior managers least likely to point fingers, and most likely to give credit where it’s due.

The trust is upwards too, with board and executive teams finding the quiet calm of this colleague reassuring when stress levels are high.

Is quiet leadership always effective?

Sometimes highly vocal, dynamic and tangibly decisive leaders are needed in retail.

It takes time for quiet leaders to build loyalty, trust and effectiveness, whereas their more ‘boisterous’ counterparts can often achieve results more swiftly.

Ideally, executive teams should have a balance of quiet leaders and extrovert ‘go-getters’, the yin and yang of change management.

‘A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus, but a moulder of consensus.’ Martin Luther King, Jr.