I confess. I am a quiet leader. There, I have said too much already.
As a Leader, sometimes I hide that I am quiet. If you wonder why, just ask yourself who do you think is in charge of a meeting? Usually we assume that the leader is the one who talks first and who has the most to say. The one who listens may not be your first choice.
I have worked to become more comfortable in meetings so that I can speak up and (at least) appear like I know what I am talking about. I find ways to use humor to decrease the anxiety I often feel in social settings. My preference is to reflect, to think and to create alone or with a few people. Being an in-charge, social whiz-bang is not me. And I am okay with that.
I am empathetic, concerned, creative and quiet. I like to observe, to reflect, to notice patterns and to ask questions. I excel in one on one settings and in small groups of people where I feel trust. My anxiety rises when I face personality conflicts or crises because I want to make the right decisions, and these situations are complicated. But I breathe and I wade in.
I have a difficult time seeing my own strengths.
I make art. Quietly. I take risks all of the time and I share my art with others.
I am a leader who is quiet in a world where leaders are expected to have a lot to say.
Aggressive power beats you up; soft power wins you over.
Soft power is quiet persistence.
Susan Cain, Quiet, p 197
I have drafted this quiet leader manifesto. I share it because I think that too often, quiet people are misunderstood. I hope this sheds light on what we do and the value we bring to our families, our workplaces and our society. Fitting with my personality, I am not going to make a big deal about it. Just read it and think.
I am a leader who is quiet
in a world where leaders are expected to have a lot to say.
- Quiet leaders are used to being out of our comfort zone. When we lead, we know how to step into challenging situations because we challenge ourselves all of the time.
- Quiet leaders care. We listen. We see the good work that other people do and we are not threatened by that. We let them know because we know how hard it is to be looked over and forgotten.
- Quiet leaders think. In a world of hurry and noise this may seem radical, and slow. And in our culture, “slow” is another way to say “stupid.”But we are willing to stand against the crowd. We think. And we question.
- Quiet leaders are sensitive. Never misunderstand that for weakness. Sensitive means we scan, we think, we reflect, we plan and we consider. A true leader is sensitive to what needs to change in themselves, in their teams and their workplace. Sensitivity is a strength. Make sense?
- Quiet leaders don’t need tights or a whip to lead. We don’t wear tights like Superman and we don’t use a whip like Indiana Jones. We know that you don’t need super strength or an intimidating whip to make people follow you. Batman and The Lone Ranger are in our tribe, but we know that they also didn’t get it. Quiet leaders don’t do it alone. And we know this. We build relationships that create trust. Trust can make change happen. And our world needs a lot more trust right now.
- Quiet leaders learn from our mistakes. We are honest and acknowledge where we need work. Sometimes we do think too much and maybe we are too sensitive. That’s okay, we are willing to learn from that and make some changes. Just don’t talk to us about this in front of a group.
- Quiet leaders make art. We make art on napkins and meeting agendas. We make art by making connections and by doing more than just getting things done. Quiet leaders care for our clients, for our staff and for our organizations. We put the ART in pARTicipation.
- Quiet leaders may not be at the front where the glory is. We are not General Patton or Donald Trump. We will be at the back of the room like Yoda. But we are at the center of what is important. We are recharging our energies so we are ready when we need to be.
- Quiet leaders need time to get ready but we are not slow. We started years ago to get ready to lead. We built our character and our strengths by investing years of attention to our craft. We put in countless, silent hours of hard work and learning. And we did it for the craft, not for the job, and certainly not for the glory.
- Quiet leaders have heros like Van Gough and Yoda. We are the people who make art anywhere we can. If we have to, we will take the doors down to make art and to make things happen. We quietly build character in ourselves and in our teams. We are solid. We are crazy enough to see the world in all of it’s color and we create hope where others just see a swamp. That’s just how we roll.
This is for all the other quiet leaders out there. I’ve got your back. Join me, there is a quiet revolution happening.
Keep it real.
If you want to learn more about quiet people or about Quiet Leadership, click here for some titles. I highly recommend Susan Cain’s book, Quiet. If you do not have the book: Stop, Drop and Buy it now!