PJ Neal

Thoughts from a more-than-occasional writer

Leadership Traits: Balancing the Loud and the Quiet [American Management Association Playbook]

The stereotypical CEO in movies and TV is overwhelmingly loud. The reality for CEOs and other executives is more complex.

Recently, Russell Reynolds Associates and Hogan Assessments examined nearly 5 million psychological profiles of workers and executives. We found that the most successful individuals are those who can balance pairs of competing competencies—a model we call Leadership Span.

While there are many nuances, we often describe Leadership Span as having a loud side and a quiet side. The loud side is disruptive, risk taking, heroic, and galvanizing. The quiet side is pragmatic, reluctant, vulnerable, and connecting.

This model reveals that successful executives embody both ends of the spectrum: They are disruptive and pragmatic, risk taking and reluctant, heroic and vulnerable, galvanizing and connecting. Employees who can balance these pairs of traits are more likely to be promoted from senior management into the C-suite than their peers. And our latest research shows that the quiet behaviors—rarely displayed by stereotypical CEOs—are directly linked to high levels of integrity and resilience.

I had the pleasure of assisting Dean Stamoulis with this article, which was published in American Management Association Playbook.