Realistic and Practical
Quiet leaders are realists and pragmatists. They do not have false notions of being great visionaries or any delusions of illusionary power. They realize what they can control and what they cannot, and they remain fully aware of the difficulties and uncertainties they often face.
Quiet leaders also reject cynicism and are neither optimistic nor pessimistic. They consider such outlooks as distorting reality. They expect and remain prepared for any eventuality--good or bad, inspiring or dismaying--and they understand the reality that self-interest, shortsightedness, and chicanery go side-by-side with loyalty, commitment, perseverance, and integrity in most organizations. They try to work around such realities rather than assuming a state of denial or making unrealistic expectations to overcome such a state.
Quiet leaders also understand that they sometimes encounter powerful opponents or adversaries or those who do not fight fair. As such, they approach their jobs with due preparation, caution, care, and attention to detail. They try to adhere to their core values, but being realists, they make sure that espousal of a cause or value does not damage their career or reputation. They understand that martyrdom is a one-time affair of no return, and try to live their lives quietly without attracting much controversy or attention.
The understanding of the reality also prompts them to work behind the scenes quietly, carefully, and patiently, without attracting much attention or jealousy, instead of taking forceful and direct action. Whatever direct, forceful, or courageous action they take is the exception, when faced with no other option, rather than the rule.