Quiet lake before dawn in the mist

How Silence Creates Everyday Leadership

Everyday leadership begins with the silence inside of us; it is the platform of our own self-knowledge. It stands as the pillar of our character which motivates our outside behavior. Yet, these qualities are often invisible to others.

“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

You may not think of yourself as a leader. I know that I didn’t when a college resident adviser chose me for a leadership position in residence life. I asked my superiors on staff if they believed I could handle the responsibility. Their answer: “Yes.”

Here is the answer you seek, just as I did.

We are all leaders.

Even you, reading this now.

Everyday Leadership is not Narrowly Defined

We tend to believe that leadership is something which can be extrinsically motivated. That is one way we encourage employees to work up the chain. We promise them an increased salary, but what they are working for is security, wealth, and peace of mind.

We do get leaders this way, but do we always get effective leaders?

Over at the Atlantic, Tara Isabella Burton asked if the qualities we seek in leaders are the best ones. I agree with her assessment, that we have a narrow definition of who a leader is. In fact, I would go further and say leadership is situational. This means if one is not handed the right opportunity then others may never see those skills in play.

Everyday Leadership Cultivates Intrinsic Motivations

Intrinsic motivation is more difficult to pin down. What traits and qualities exist within someone who will also make them a good leader? David Goleman applied the theory of emotional intelligence to the business environment. What he learned is important.

It is more than “intelligence, toughness, determination, and vision” that make for good leaders. More important to effective leadership is emotional intelligence; the abilities of empathy, self-regulation, self-awareness, motivation and social skills.

This is why I believe everyone is a leader. These skills are teachable or activated in the right situation. In fact, you are impacting lives everyday as Drew Dudley confirms in his Ted Talk.

Many believe that leadership only belongs to those who are unique and who change the world. But the truth is nearer to you than you believe – you too deserve to wear this mantle.

Everyday Leadership Exists in You

It felt good when I received my “Of The Month” award from students in our residence hall community. It was an honor and not one I was expecting to receive since the award is earned through the nomination of residents.

I never turned back after that and continued putting on more programs in the halls until my graduation. I began to understand that it wasn’t my introversion which I had to overcome to be a leader, instead, I needed to acknowledge my own worth and right to everyday leadership.

I had a talent different from other leaders in the hall. This allowed me to connect with students in a way that others could not. It wasn’t a better quality, just different. That is why leadership requires diversity.

It is more than intelligence, toughness, determination, and vision that make for good leaders. More important to effective leadership is emotional intelligence; the abilities of empathy, self-regulation, self-awareness, motivation and social skills.

Everyday Leadership Learnings for Executives

As a community manager, I need to choose moderators who understand the goals of my company. They need to have the sensibilities of employees even if they are community members. Here are a few of the ways my story above has influenced the way I pick people for those power positions.

1. It is more than who shows up

Not everyone has the social sensitivity needed to run a community. You must outline the qualities or traits you are looking for, including those soft skills that are necessary to work with others effectively.

2. Lurkers may have the most insight

I was a quiet employee. I often needed encouragement before I could speak. If you want to vet an employee who is the same way then invite them into a one-on-one opportunity to talk. Ask them open-ended questions which allow them to give careful thought before they answer.

3. Pay attention to comments

The Gygax Magazine community has over 6,000 members. How do you choose just one or two moderators from so many? Simple. Pay attention to those who comment. Our first mod told me off-handily that she loved our community. She explained on a Skype call why from her perspective. She now runs activity on our Facebook page.

Many believe that leadership only belongs to those who are unique and who change the world. But the truth is nearer to you than you believe – you too deserve to wear this mantle.

Leaders are born from the silence within us where our best qualities originate. Our inner world does not always mesh with the one outside. This makes leadership more situational than we would like to admit. Everyone is a potential leader and we should strive to find ways to activate those qualities in others.

How do you define leadership? What traits or qualities do you believe are most important?
Did you like today’s post? If so you’ll love our frequent newsletter! Sign up HERE and receiveThe Switch and Shift Change Playbook, by Shawn Murphy, as our thanks to you!

Susan is a community consultant and market researcher. In September, she will launch her new blog "About a Minute" at http://blog.susansilver.net/. "About a Minute" will enrich readers’ lives by making them happy, healthier, and emotionally wealthy. It only takes about a minute to achieve this when articles are only 300 words. Susan is making a positive change in people’s lives with thoughtful communication.

  • Charmian Solter

    Susan, thank you for writing such an inspiring post! I too, quote children’s books and keep the Little Prince quote close at hand. Introverts and quiet people, lead in many subtle ways and hold much unlocked potential. Those with eyes to see won’t miss these cues-and that makes a great leader!

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