What started as a little experiment with 15 women for breakfast is growing up – Quietly Powerful is now 2 years old and have now reached thousands of people from around the world. I feel grateful for the memorable moments, inspiration and support from a range of people!

I thought to share some of the most memorable moments and the 5 key insights in addition to what I wrote a year ago 7 key insights from 12 months of Quietly Powerful:

Memorable moments…

Unhelpful advice to be more confident: About 90% out of 1200 people stood up when asked “Have you been told to ‘be more confident’?” That’s over 1000 people! I then asked them to sit down if being told to be confident actually helped them to be more confident. No one moved, as expected. (see Don’t tell me to ‘be more confident’)

Inspiring, brave people I have worked with: One of the virtual program participants – a very quiet, smart woman – had been told by her manager that she was not ready for senior leadership roles. Towards the end of the program, she proved him wrong by bravely applying for and securing a more senior leadership role in another organisation! Another of my coaching clients decided to ask her CEO to create a role that would suit her better, after reflecting on what she’s suited to and wanted to do. After careful thinking she courageously went to ask and the role was created!

Insight 1: Being brave is more important than being confident. (see Stop trying to be confident… do this instead in 2018)

Some sad memorable moments…

Quiet = Wrong: A mother of two came to one of the Quietly Powerful Women breakfasts and shared how her son was a very outgoing, social, sporty child and her daughter was quieter. She told us that her daughter came to her and said, “What’s wrong with me, mum? Why am I not like my brother?”

Introversion needs fixing: Feedback after a keynote speech “Thank you for your wonderful presentation. I have the felt need to, and been encouraged, to ‘battle’ my introversion to be viewed as an expert and be trusted for my opinions. So it was refreshing to hear your insight.” (see Introversion is not a disorder and femininity does not equal weak)

Strong leadership = dominance: A senior leader wrote to me, disappointed with the feedback she received about her unsuccessful interview for a role. They were looking for a ‘strong leader’, meaning dominant, who can handle the current culture of fighting and pushing people around. (see Strong leadership ≠ dominance)

Insight 2: There are a LOT of people feeling quietly disempowered. Quieter people, young and not-so-young, feel they are overlooked, not-good-enough or exhausted from pretending to fit the current model of leadership. I have been blown away by the number of people who have reached out to me to say that my story and message resonates with them and how they have felt they had to ‘fix’ themselves. (See Personality-ism)

Some moments that gave me hope…

Speaking less is powerful: A question from the audience at a Quietly Powerful talk “I am an extrovert and talk a lot. I see the power of quieter people speaking less – so I was wondering how I can speak less?” Many people nodded when asked whether they know of people who don’t say much but when they do they have enormous insights/impact.

Authenticity and humility of quietly powerful leaders: Interviewing a quietly powerful leader, one of his first comments was “I’m kind of nervous just sitting here, these kind of video interviews are nerve wrecking…” Through my interviews I noticed that quietly powerful leaders are comfortable in their own skins, humble, present with people, and focused less on themselves, more on their purpose, work and team. (Join the Quietly Powerful Members LinkedIn Group to see the full interviews)

Relevance of quietly powerful abroad: I was blown away with 200 people registering for my first ever webinar in 2017 and more than 300 people listening to the DIAN (Diversity & Inclusion in Asia Network) webcast interview in 2018. Quietly powerful resonated with people from around the world and in the context of global organisations dealing with cultural differences. (see the diagram in Do you have to be an extrovert to get ahead?)

Insight 3: Quietly powerful leadership is not just for introverts. Every leader can benefit from adopting some of the quietly powerful leaders’ qualities. (See Quietly powerful is not just about introverts) Many under-estimate the power of quiet but some recognise them. Many people recognise the power when it is pointed out to them. It does not get noticed as easily as they are not in your face!

And finally, my own thoughts based on research:

Insight 4: Our mental model of what good leadership looks like is still stuck in the industrial era and we may not even be aware of it. We keep looking for similar kinds of leadership qualities and developing them as we have in the past. Many are highlighting the new kind of leadership required for the VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) world* which includes qualities such as complex thinking, collaboration, inclusive and humility (many of which are qualities seen in quietly powerful leaders). Yet, the results from new research from the Global Center for Digital Business Transformation (an IMD and Cisco initiative), and HR consultancy metaBeratung demonstrate that relatively few of today’s leaders possess them.

Insight 5: We continue to waste talent. If we don’t update our mental model of what good leadership looks like, we will continue on our current path and waste a lot of talent (see War on Wasted Talent) – which is not helpful for organisations dealing with the VUCA environment and disruption, nor is it helping to build diverse and inclusive, high performing organisations.

*Select few articles on leading in a VUCA world

Centre for Creative Leadership, Future Trends in Leadership Development by Nick Petrie

Oxford Leadership, Leadership challenges in the V.U.C.A world by Pablo Tovar

Deloitte Insights, Leadership disrupted: Pushing the boundaries by Anthony Abbatiello, Marjorie Knight, Stacey Philpot, Indranil Roy

IMD Publications, How disruption is redefining leadership by Professor Michael R. Wade

ImagineNation, A Disruptive World and New Leadership Capabilities by Janet Sernack

Reserve Bank of Australia, Leadership in an Age of Digital Disruption by Sarv Girn

In a VUCA world, a leader-coach should know that encouragement is the best team motivator by Ruchira Chaudhary

The New Face of Leadership – Emergence Of The Disruptive Leader by Anton Van Der Walt