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How to Be an Effective Quiet Leader

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How to Be an Effective Quiet Leader

I’m a pretty quiet guy by nature. Even though I appear to be an extrovert, I am an introvert. I get my energy when I am alone and debriefing. My quietness can sometimes appear and come across that I don’t have an opinion about things and that I’m not really a leader. However, my quietness at first, is merely me listening and processing before I speak.

While my quietness is often appreciated, it has been used against me before. For instance, during a really difficult time in my personal life, I kept things quiet and tried to protect my private life. I was trying to figure it all out with a handful of people. Nothing sinful was going on, it was just a very private matter that didn’t need to be made public to the Church. I blogged about the debate of private and public life in ministers.

In my situation, I was quiet out of respect of what was happening and the people involved. But, I was still leading. However, because of my quietness, it allowed others, louder than I, to talk, to make baseless accusations and to spread gossip. I was quiet and allowed others to do what they chose to do. I was quiet and I got blasted for it, even though I was trying to protect others. I could have said more, given an explanation, but didn’t. When I finally spoke up, the damage was already done.

I’m not saying that if you are quiet by nature you can’t be a real leader. Or, that you need to go out and start over-stating your opinion to others. You do not need to become the most vocal person on your team or staff to be an effective leader. But what I am saying is that fellow quiet people do need to share what they are thinking and their opinions in some way or form.  If not, we tend to get walked on by stronger personalities and then we have the possibility of bitterness seeping in.

If you do not like speaking up, here are some things you can do to be an effective quiet leader:

  • Write down what you want to say and then share it at the appropriate time in a private one-on-one time. You can email it but I would suggest in person is better. “Tone” can be hard to tell on email.
  • When asked if you have an opinion, share your thoughts. I know this sounds obvious, but often times if I was asked my opinion, I would say “no”. It doesn’t have to be something major, but a simple insight will go a long way. Share respectfully, but share.
  • Lead and influence by example. You may be quiet but you can lead by example and show people what it means to be a leader. You will earn respect and trust.

I am a quiet leader. On stage and in front of people, I am very extroverted. I’ve learned to be that way. But, in other ministry situations like staff meetings, I tend to be quiet. What I’ve learned over time is that it is not abnormal. There are a lot of quiet leaders and ministers. Ministers who like to process, listen and protect before they speak. And that’s ok. But, just because you are quiet does not mean you have to get walked on. It doesn’t mean you can’t speak up and share your opinion. Use opportunities to lead by example and speak up in different ways. That way you can be an effective quiet leader.

This article originally appeared here.

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A father of four, Tom is the Online Campus Pastor at New Life Christian Church in Chantilly, Va. He blogs, vlogs, and podcasts regularly about student and online ministry stuff. Check out his work at YMSidekick.com