by • January 17, 2013 • Leading, Leaders and Leadership, Professional Development, UncategorizedComments (2)1815

Is loudness leadership?

Is my extrovert showing? Or is your introvert hiding?

In response to a comment on a recent episode of Student Affairs Live (thank you to Ed Cabellon and Tony Doody for sparking some great conversation), I tweeted the following:


After seeing this tweet get re-tweeted 12 times, I thought I might be onto something. (Take some time to watch the video I tweeted as well – the entire series is quite eye-opening).

What struck me, among may other things, about the video and the comment that sparked it was the strange link between loudness and leadership.

We seek out proof of competence and evidence of expertise. We expect it to be easy to see and hard to miss.

We mistake silence for weakness while overly praising conversation and action. We are expected to be shameless self promoters, and crave attention for our accomplishments, yet in others we find judgement both when we speak up (‘bossy’, ‘overbearing’) and when we don’t (‘aloof’, ‘cold).

My work in assessment has made it clear that it is difficult, and often impossible, to assess what we can’t see. Just as I can’t accurately judge the level of engagement between members of an online community if I’m only looking at Facebook posts and tweets, how can I possibly see whether someone is a good leader if I don’t see them lead and hear them talk about their leadership?

I have to look deeper. 

It is not enough anymore to expect others to tell us they are a leader, or for them to show it off. We can no longer sit back and wait for proof of development, growth or competence – we have to search it out. Our own assumptions around what a leader does and says effectively blind us to the quieter, more subtle ways students, colleagues and even ourselves can impact our world in ways we have only begun to imagine. 

Work for a cause

What does leadership look like for you? Comment with your thoughts or tweet me to keep the conversation going. 



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2 Responses to Is loudness leadership?

  1. Jeff Pelletier (@JeffBC94) says:

    Great post Lisa-
    Leadership to me has always been about the example you set, no matter how loud it may be. I am introverted as well, so I may not be the loudest voice in the room; I may often appear as though I am not engaged in the discussion. But I am taking in a lot of information simultaneously, maybe even seeing things that not everyone sees, or hearing things that get drowned out by others.

    I watch how the leaders around me act, in large and small groups, and in individual situations, and have tried to emulate the best of the examples in my life. I hope that my own actions and words are examples to younger professionals and students around me. Because I base a lot in action and behavior, it’s important that a leader is consistent. Not that they act the same in every situation, but that they act according to a set of values and do so regardless of who is around watching. There’s an adage about true character being who you are when no one is watching, so I think I look for people for whom that rings true, and try to be that type of leader myself.

  2. Leadership to me exudes itself in results — sometimes from the person who is the leader, sometimes from the people they are working with and inspiring to do great things.

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