It’s Time for “Loud Leadership”
Quiet dynamics do not work for new generations of workers.
By Grant H. Brenner and Santor Nishizaki
As the pandemic leaves behind the tenor of crisis, winding down into an endemic phase of vaccine boosters, and attention shifts to new global threats, the workplace-rattled by years of upheaval and economic instability-continues to roil with unpredictability as a young generation of workers seeks out a more comfortable yet elusive reality. Traditional managers, used to expectable norms, are a bit bewildered.
While to an extent it may be old wine in new bottles, updated terminology helps us make sense of changes through a contemporary lens. Each generation seems to need its slang, anyway, in order to stake a claim and feel a sense of ownership. Few people like hearing that we’ve seen this before, and when it comes to the current environment, even if it looks familiar, things are fundamentally different because of rapid cultural changes fueled by social media and the spectre of existential threat omnipresent in the feeds we daily doom scroll. Are we a “ nation of wimps” (Marano, 2004), and if so, whose fault is it anyway?
Quiet quitting (disengaged employees) hit this scene with a big splash: “I’ll do my job, but why would I go above and beyond? I have no idea where things will be in five years, and the promise of long-term security has all but gone out the window. Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we may die.”
On its heels, quiet firing has been lighting up social media, the war of attrition involving letting employees figure out that it’s time for them to resign, given the mounting disadvantages to firing people outright. We believe that quiet firing is a symptom of “quiet leadership,” also known as “ laissez-faire leadership,” when leaders disconnect themselves entirely from their employees and let them do what they want, without any regard for their professional development or career growth.
Quiet leadership may have been acceptable in the past, but as new generations enter the workplace, they require “loud leadership.” What’s that? To engage with their staff frequently, care about their well-being, and develop them for the long term, also known as transformational leadership-leading each person in…