Embrace Quiet Leadership

BY Lindsey Piant Perez, AIA, GGP, DLR Group

For the longest time, I understood leadership to mean someone who would willingly take center stage, martyring themselves as the loudest voice in the room. They communicate their thoughts and ideas to direct a team toward a designated goal. As an introvert, a blinding spotlight and a riveted audience are not exactly appealing—they're downright terrifying. You can imagine why I found myself hesitant about embracing the role of “leader.” I hadn't learned the true definition of leadership.

Leadership isn’t about being the sole provider of ideas or having the loudest volume within your peer group. Rather it's about having ears for all ideas and being their advocate, giving voice to every member of the team, and working alongside them to accomplish a common goal. Leadership isn’t about giving directions and pointing with a big stick; it’s about rolling up your sleeves, listening more than speaking, and joining hands to help everyone advance forward. A true leader doesn’t fear the success of their teammates; they celebrate it!

As a result of my self-reflection and personal edification, I’ve learned to be more comfortable with my leadership style and embrace who I am as a person. I've stopped purporting a persona that’s not true to my character. Fortunately, it was at the 2015 AIA Women’s Leadership Summit (thank you Wendy Ornelas, FAIA) that I learned I'm not alone in my leadership style. There’s a term for those, like me, who find themselves reflective, collaborative, and eager to achieve proactive solutions instead of reactive fixes. We are the quiet leaders, and we're vital to our industry’s success.