Quiet insurance professionals aren’t any less qualified or capable than their more outgoing peers, yet they’re often overlooked due to their more reserved nature – now, one leadership consultant has offered insights into how more reserved brokers can prove their worth.
“The tendency to over-rely on the view that ‘the work will speak for itself’ can result in quiet professionals being overlooked or taken advantage of,” said Megumi Mik, founder of Quietly Powerful.
“While quiet professionals tend to dislike self-promotion, they can find ways to share what they know and what they are doing in ways that help others rather than ways that feel like they’re bragging.”
For example, Miki says a more reserved broker can still stay on their manager’s radar by regularly informing them about their work and how it helps their goals, or they could host a lunch time discussion or share articles that are of interest to people.
“It is also worth investing their efforts in developing strong relationships with people in influential positions who value their contributions and can sponsor and promote them,” said Miki. “Again, these relationships can be developed by being helpful rather than ‘selling’.”
While Miki offered advice to quiet professionals who want to succeed in their careers, she also urged more outgoing leaders not to overlook their quiet team members – as they could be missing out on an incredibly valuable asset.
“Become more aware of those who are quieter, and be observant of them and your assumptions about them,” she said, noting that, oftentimes, people wrongly assume that a quiet demeaner is indicative of low confidence, limited competence, a lack interest or even just inability to add something fresh to the conversation.
“It is quite possible that they have not had the opportunity to speak because of a noisy group, they may have given up after trying, they may feel that their ideas had already been spoken about,” said Miki. “Invite them in or ask them one on one afterwards.”
Miki also noted that a quiet person may indeed have lost confidence because they keep getting told to ‘speak up more’ or ‘be more confident’.
“What is more useful is to encourage them to stretch outside their comfort zones, especially in something they feel passionate about,” she said. “We can all behave out of character when we are focused on something we are passionate about.”
Finally, when searching to fill roles, particularly leadership roles, Miki urged leaders not to “short-cut” decision making.
“When someone makes a good first impression, we may not ask enough questions to get to the substance behind the style,” she said. “On the flipside, when someone may be anxious or quiet and does not have a ‘confident appearance’, create an environment where they can share more of themselves, ask questions to draw out their expertise and ideas.
“Getting past our cognitive biases to understand the person’s true capability beyond what’s on the surface is critical for both quiet and not-so-quiet people.”