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The Power of a Quiet Leader

23/01/18 Andy Raymond Director, Redline Executive

Boards of directors say they want to know two key qualities in a CEO: integrity and resilience. Integrity, the quality which allows the board to have baseline trust in a CEO’s judgement and ethics. Resilience inspires stimulates confidence that a leader has the ability to recover from inevitable setbacks and hindrances and use them to make the organisation even greater. These qualities transcend specific business situations as it is what allows executives to handle virtually any business situation.

As important as these qualities are, they are also incredibly difficult to measure. The only measurement that can be of evidence of an executive’s integrity and resilience as a business leader is via conversations with those who have worked with an executive in the past.

Andy Raymond, Redline Executive Director is a Competency Based Interviewing practitioner and a licenced practitioner for several key profiling and assessment methodologies including Thomas International, Talent Q and OPQ.  Andy discusses whether executives can truly understand and truly know if someone will hold up under pressure when hiring a new executive for their board.

“Due to the common measurement limitations around integrity and resilience, most leadership development programs And CEO succession efforts tend to instead focus on more observable personality traits, such as charisma, influence and passion. This often leads to a bias for people with relatively loud personalities who can cast great visions and persuade others to follow them.

The bias towards a loud executive can be subtle, however it is always well-documented. Over the years, researchers have found significant correlations between being a likable, attention-getting extrovert and becoming a leader. This is accurate in the hiring of C-suite candidates and also in the choices about who gets into high potential development programmes.

Andy continues: The stereotypical loud CEO traits are laudable ones that can often unlock greatness. But do they make the best CEOs – and are they even relevant given today’s fast-changing business environment?

By consulting closely on the nuances of the requirement and translating said nuances into the right combination of competencies, we can very effectively identify evidence of the thought processes and actions a candidate has displayed in a given real-world business scenario. By digging deeper and exploring the reasoning, the execution, the outcome and what has been learnt, we can generate meaningful data relating to the style and attitude of the candidate giving us tangible sense of their integrity and resilience.

Popular views and decades of academic research on leadership tells us that extraverts are the best leaders. Those who confidently and aggressively speak out, give orders, make bold plans and are the centre of attention. People who are generally the most dominant, outgoing people. However there are many characteristics of introverted ‘quite’ leaders:

  • They think first and talk later. They consider what others have to say, then reflect and then respond;
  • They focus on depth not superficiality. They like to dig deeply into issues and ideas before considering new ones. They prefer meaningful rather than superficial conversations.
  • They exude calm. In times of crisis in particular, they project reassuring, unflappable confidence.
  • They prefer writing to talking. They are more comfortable with the written word, which helps them formulate the spoken word.
  • They embrace solitude. They are energized by spending time alone, and often suffer from people exhaustion. They need a retreat, from which they emerge with renewed energy and clarity.

In conclusion, selecting and developing the right leaders for the next decade (which promises to be a period of heightened uncertainty) is not going to be a painless task. In a volatile world. It is increasingly important for companies to understand how well a CEO candidate will perform if, or perhaps when, circumstances change. This means paying attention to both the loud and quiet traits when selecting a candidate.

Redline Executive are the industry-aligned key partner for C and D suite permanent and interim hiring assignments for the European Technology market. To find out more about our Executive Search Process you can download our Executive Search Brochure here.

For a confidential discussion on C and D Level jobs, please call Andy Raymond – Director on +44 (0)1582 450054 or send an email to