I had a stereotypical view about leadership. A great leader in my mind was always an aggressively decisive, super confident if not arrogant, ego centric, extrovert and charismatic person with a cult fan following. However, after I joined Toastmasters, I happened to meet a new kind of leaders. The got their jobs done in a very smooth manner with very less noise and absolutely zero use of force. One such silent leader is DTM Sudha Datta, a fellow Toastmaster in Abu Dhabi, who lives the quote given below in letter and spirit:
Leadership is the art of getting someone else to to do something you want done because he wants to do it – Dwight David Eisenhower
Some of the characteristics of silent leaders which I learned from Sudha are given below:
They Project Calm Confidence: Silent leaders project a calm confidence in situations of pressure. They speak slowly and softly despite the heat of a conversation. The reassuring calmness which they exude slowly spreads to people around them as well, helping them to reach solution for any problem. I have always felt that it’s virtually impossible to provoke Sudha or make him angry.
They Are Catalysts not Commentators: They participate in the whole process as a driving force rather than playing arm-chair quarterback. They way Sudha pulled off a magnificent Annual Conference is a true example of silent leadership. He just provided a platform where the team members could freely communicate and play their strengths. Whenever the processes or discussions started to fizzle, he intervened to put the things back in the right direction.
They Think First, Talk Later: Silent leaders consider other’s comments carefully even during casual conversations. Later they respond to other’s ideas and present his own views. They use their calm and quiet demeanor to make a resounding impact by talking only at the right time.
They are Humble: Silent leaders show humility in both accomplishments and failure. Sudha wholeheartedly passed on the credit for his stupendous success to the able toastmasters who worked with him. He also took full responsibility for whatever things did not go right (which thankfully was not very significant).
They are Finishers who Set an Example: Silent leaders do not make commitments which they can’t keep which make their commitments very valuable. They take care do what they say and finish what they do. For example, I’ve invited Sudha to my club on several occasions for speech evaluations, educational sessions etc. While last minute cancellation of roles is common in Toastmasters, I never had such experience him. When somebody shows commitment to you, it’s very difficult to reciprocate. Probably that’s the reason why his team showed strong commitment to his goals.
I believe leadership is a quality which you could learn better by observing the ones around you rather than reading bestselling books. One of the best places where you can observe as well experiment leadership is Toastmasters. DTM Sudha is not the only leader I have encountered in Toastmaster. However, his style of leadership is something which I’m trying to apply in my own life.
Do you observe and learn from the leaders around you?