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No! No! Don’t You Dare Lead Quietly

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.

By Khadija White-Thomas
December 23, 2022

“The greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude.” ~ Oprah Winfrey

This writing is the last of four articles discussing leadership characteristics, opportunities and discoveries. The other commentaries, (1) Reassessing: A Different Kind of Leadership, (2) Reframing: Leadership Assumptions ~ The Set-up-to-Fail Syndrome vs. The Halo Effect in the Workplace and (3) Leadership Expectations ~ Diversity, Inclusivity, Respect and Transparency are earlier 2022 contributions. This article identifies familiar moods that artfully sneak up, creating a mindset of leading quietly. 

Leading Quietly

A phenomenon of quiet quitting suggests individuals silently escape their positions, job responsibilities and become non-productive. What does this notion of a quiet escape depict for leaders and those in leadership roles? Are there leaders that have silently drifted off and no longer aspire to complete their assignments? Reflecting on three familiar leadership traps led to the writing of this article. This global theory of quiet quitting may have vast definitions. In the context of leading quietly, the depiction is a state in which leaders have silently released their oversight, left their post of duty and become uninterested in the needs of their staff, the mission, the vision or the goals.

Trapped in the Comfort and Complacency Zones  

Experiencing professional growth along the leadership journey is critical. If there is no purpose or significance along the way, it can often result in being held hostage in a place of comfort and staying within the comfort and complacency zones. Both zones describe areas that leaders may want to steer clear of. Leaders who occupy the spaces of comfort and complacency will withdraw from the aspirations of being thriving leaders. Within the leadership virtues, we learn and often carry-out leadership effectiveness when there is a synergy of creativity and uncertainty. The nudging of potential challenges often causes a leader to create or recreate that platform of potential possibilities, thus creating goal accomplishments. 


  1. Move away from comfort and complacency zones.
  2. Be challenged to act, think, behave and consider implementing something new.
  3. Create a new goal, a new program or create expansive transformation and enlist the team for creative ideas.

This discomfort of moving out of the zones may lead to a new vision and further thriving for all!

Feeling a Lack of Return on Investment and Energy

As leaders, we are on an assignment, and our leadership assignments may be vastly different. The common thread is an assignment where we make a difference. Initially, there may be an influx of energy and the ability to quantify the return on the leadership investment. Over time, does the leadership focus and concentration lessen? The intensity to lead is replaced with a moderate approach to perform. Alternatively, the leadership excitement becomes a monotonous state of just showing up. 


  1. Move away from feelings of lack of return and lack of energy.
  2. Create an infinite possibilities list. This list should contain every idea imaginable for accomplishment by the leader and the team.
  3. Categorize the list based on organizational purpose, professional development, goal identity and mastery.
  4. Take the time to imagine that all things are possible to bring forth innovation.

It is all in the brainstorming that brings forth creativity!

Constructive Communication vs. Destructive Thinking

Constructive communication for leaders is essential and helpful when it is clear, direct and honest. Constructive communication discusses missteps while allowing one to make appropriate adjustments and improvements. If constructive communication does not create positive change but instead becomes destructive thinking, leaders may question their leadership abilities. These false perceptions can cripple leaders and create a lack of self-efficacy and the inability to achieve effective governance. 


  1. Move away from destructive thinking.
  2. Remember, constructive communication can be positive.
  3. Use a communication tool or process to assess constructive communication.
  4. Start by identifying the problems or issues and obtain the specific details.
  5. Offer optional solutions and take time to reevaluate the resolutions while considering best practices in the future.

Remember, perfection in leadership may be a desire for some, but it is not a reality!

Leadership is a never-ending continuum of a commitment to excellence—not perfection. Take advantage of opportunities to pivot toward new behavior, greater action and inspiring attitude changes. Let leadership be expressed out loud for rebuilding and recreating confidence and the team’s confidence. 

No! No! Don’t You Dare Lead quietly!

 Author: Dr. Khadijia White-Thomas works in the federal courts as an executive leader. She is also the Founder and CEO of Decree Consulting & Publishing, LLC, focusing on organizational change, and providing business coaching, strategy, and marketing consulting services. Contact Dr. Khadijia at [email protected]  

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