There’s a subtle difference between:

Reacting and responding.
Blaming and holding someone accountable.
Delegating and passing the buck.
Failure and learning from our mistakes.

Subtlety is the quality of being understated, delicate, or nuanced. These are words not often associated with leadership – but when it comes to leading people, subtlety can make all the difference. 

If a big change is not possible or warranted, a slight turn of the dial can be more powerful. A gentle nudge can be more effective than a drastic jerk.

The manager who merely role models the behaviour he wants to see in his team rather than dictating behaviours to others.

Getting two managers to jointly lead a project whose divisions need to work more closely together.

Asking the group, “what do others think?” when one person is dominating conversation.

The chairman who addresses conflict in his board members by changing the seating arrangements, so the two people in conflict sit adjacent to each other, rather than on opposite sides of the table.

Using subtle pauses in a speech.
Slightly warming your tone of voice.
Adjusting the angle of your chair.
Unfolding your arms.
Turning your phone off when you are with someone.
Or simply smiling.

How can you use subtlety to become a better leader?