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You’ve Heard of ‘Quiet Quitting,’ but What About ‘Quiet Leadership?’

Quiet leadership is as much of a challenge as quiet quitting: Both highlight major management and culture challenges at large.

Niki Jorgensen //May 11, 2023//

You’ve Heard of ‘Quiet Quitting,’ but What About ‘Quiet Leadership?’

Quiet leadership is as much of a challenge as quiet quitting: Both highlight major management and culture challenges at large.

Niki Jorgensen //May 11, 2023//

HR leaders may be aware of quiet quitting, but there’s one cause of quiet quitting that’s going unrecognized: quiet leadership. Among other factors, quiet leadership can cause employees to disengage and quiet quit. Unlike active managers who follow and support the day-to-day activities of their team, quiet leaders have a hands-off approach to managing their team that is driven by end results and numbers. This approach can alienate workers who desire mentorship and guidance from their managers.

To address this issue, employers should foster active leadership within organizations so leaders proactively engage with their teams. The result for employers is a more engaged workforce who want to work for the company. Three strategies to accomplish that involve training frontline managers, helping employees plan for their future and focusing on culture.

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Train frontline managers

Frontline managers work with teams daily, which grants them a powerful influence over their team’s level of engagement. After being promoted during the pandemic, many frontline managers also received management duties for the first time. These newly promoted frontline managers may also feel anxious about meeting their targets and focus on end results over day-to-day team management. In some cases, that can create gaps in leadership and management skills, as well as quiet leadership.

The solution for businesses is adequately training frontline managers to support their teams. When an employee is promoted to a management position, they may think they know how to manage teams, but it may not be the most effective approach once they are in the trenches. Training programs, along with mentorship from more experienced leaders can help new managers adapt successfully.

Oftentimes, something as simple as a resource library or a book on management or leadership can offer important tips to managers who may not think to seek out resources on their own. Other organizations may choose to enroll frontline managers in a mandatory leadership program or conference to enhance their leadership skills and encourage management/upper-management check-ins to help improve their leadership styles.

Help employees stay engaged

The best employees are engaged employees who feel valued, know they are appreciated and see a future within the organization. However, if managers focus exclusively on the numbers at the end of every quarter, their quiet leadership approach can leave their team feeling as though they are only recognized for their production value, not the skills they bring to the team and organization.

Time within an organization can make employees short-sighted. Employees may focus on hitting their goals within a certain timeframe while neglecting the broader goals for themselves and the business. Eventually, organizations might find themselves with a lackluster leadership pipeline as employees become disengaged or lose the desire to grow within the organization.

Leaders and frontline managers, in particular, can avoid quiet leadership and lead proactively by helping employees plan. Check-ins and annual reviews both present opportunities to talk with employees individually, but group sessions can also be a helpful tool to overview various career paths within the organization. By encouraging a forward-thinking mentality, leadership can keep employees motivated to succeed individually and as a team.

Remember the importance of culture

Quiet leadership and corporate culture go hand in hand. When leaders focus exclusively on results, culture often suffers as a result. The impacts of a stressful or unsupportive culture may not become immediately apparent in the numbers, but if culture is left unattended for long enough, burnout, poor employee retention and low morale will lower productivity.

Leaders need to ask themselves whether they are focusing on numbers at the expense of their people. If they see signs of quiet leadership, like employees who feel excessively stressed about meeting their targets at work and who leave after one to two years on the job, that is typically a sign to shift leadership styles. 

In contrast to a culture where quiet leadership is common, a culture with proactive leadership will encourage employees to tackle new challenges, take appropriate time off and be transparent with managers regarding career support. Employees will appreciate and benefit from regular check-ins and consistent opportunities for growth. 

Quiet leadership is as much of a challenge as quiet quitting since both highlight management and culture challenges. Fortunately, leaders can confront this obstacle with ease by training managers appropriately, guiding employees and centering a strong corporate culture.


Niki JorgensenNiki Jorgensen is a director of service operations with Insperity, a leading provider of human resources offering the most comprehensive suite of scalable HR solutions available in the marketplace. For more information about Insperity, call 800-465-3800 or visit