A few weeks ago, we had the pleasure of Megumi Miki presenting our most popular e-Workshop yet Quietly Powerful – Unlock Your Hidden Leadership Strength, showing how far from being a weakness, your quieter nature can be an advantage in a workplace. In her work, Megumi has interviewed 29 Quietly Powerful leaders to understand what makes them quietly powerful and how their natural tendencies have been their leadership strengths. We caught up with Megumi to find out more.
"How did the Quietly Powerful movement come about?"
Firstly, it was due to my hunch that I wasn’t alone in being challenged in the workplace as a naturally quiet professional. I had experienced being ignored, overlooked or feeling exhausted from pretending to be more confident or outspoken. I wanted to share the challenges and lessons from my experience, my coaching clients and Quietly Powerful leaders I interviewed. Secondly, having worked in the field of culture and leadership development, I felt we need to expand our beliefs about what good leaders look, sound and feel like. We are wasting a lot of great talent by holding onto, sometimes unconsciously, a narrow view of leaders.
"Why can being quietly powerful be a leadership strength? Why today?"
A quieter approach to leadership, when deliberate and purposeful, is empowering, inclusive and uplifting for those around them. It is different from the traditional ‘hero’ leadership that relies on the single confident leader that knows everything, dominates and directs everyone. We need not-so-dominant leaders who create space and enable others to step up because:
- In our complex, fast changing world where one person cannot know or solve everything, organisations cannot afford to have a dominant leader
- With increasing multicultural contexts, humility and listening is key to developing relationships and understanding while avoiding misunderstanding and conflict
- If organisations want proactive, engaged and innovative people, they need leaders who create space and psychological safety
- We need to stop making the mistake of assuming that a confident appearance equals real confidence or competence, as this mistake is costing organisations in many ways
"What qualities make a Quietly Powerful Leader?"
Quietly Powerful leaders have an understated, humble, authentic style, enabled by three key attributes:
- Comfortable – In the interviews these leaders were very comfortable sharing, including their mistakes and flaws, often with self-deprecating humour. There was a sense that they were comfortable with both their strengths and weaknesses. As a result they are authentic and humble.
- Present – Because they are comfortable they can be present, listen and connect deeply. I was struck by the deep, long term relationships they had built through their careers and lives.
- Purposeful – Many of them did not see themselves as a leader, nor did they want the attention and power that came with taking up a leadership position. They did because they felt that they could contribute in some way and were committed to making a positive difference.
"What’s your top advice for becoming a Quietly Powerful leader?"
Remember that strengths misused can become weaknesses and weaknesses reframed can be your greatest strength and differentiator. When you appreciate yourself more fully, you change the story you tell yourself about yourself and become more comfortable and present. You then have greater capacity to focus on your purpose, mission, making a difference such that you can adapt yourself purposefully, even step outside your comfort zones, to fulfil the leadership roles you take up.
Megumi is a sought-after speaker and consultant in leadership, culture, diversity and inclusion, with a background in strategy, economics and finance. Her book 'Quietly Powerful ‘How your quiet nature is your hidden leadership strength’ is out now. Get signed copies at www.megumimiki.com/shop. Unsigned copies are available from Major Street Publishing and through Booktopia.com.au, Dymocks.com.au, Amazon.com.au.