Are You Quiet Enough? Lessons for Leaders

Hal Gregersen, executive director of the MIT Leadership Center, has spent more than a decade studying the world’s most successful business leaders. One of his most important findings: sometimes being successful means being quiet.

In a recent interview with The Atlantic, Gregersen explained, “The challenge becomes that once people move into leadership roles, they often spend too much time in offices and too little time out on the edge of their organizations where people are voicing legitimate, honest concerns about what’s working and what isn’t.” In contrast, successful leaders seek out the information that isn’t actively reported to them, and embrace uncomfortable ideas that will lead to positive innovation.

Gregersen even addresses the recent story of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick’s confrontation with one of the ride-sharing company’s drivers: “You think about the leaders, like Walt Bettinger [CEO of Schwab], who actually goes out of his way to have those conversations where people are saying ‘Guess what, things weren’t what they thought they were.’ If leaders don’t go out of their way to go after this passive data—the data that’s there but doesn’t, intentionally, systematically come at [them]—they’ll get overwhelmed with all the information coming in and get blindsided like the Uber CEO did.”

For a closer look at the value of being quiet, read his interview with The Atlantic or the original Harvard Business Review article. For more information on how Gregersen can contribute his expertise to your organization, contact us.

Danny Stern: