Semester in Review – Being a Quiet Leader

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Throughout this semester in the Humphrey Fellowship I have learned about leadership in multiple contexts. From leadership styles, to servant leadership, to inspiring leaders it has been crazy to see how many actual approaches to leadership there are. Everyone has a different definition of leadership. Everyone has a different style of leadership. Then there are people who doubt that they have what it takes to be a leader.

I felt like I fell somewhere into the spectrum of the followers. I am more shy than most people, I’m introverted, and I really don’t like to be the outspoken character in group interactions. From what I understood about leadership at the beginning of the semester I was not on the path to being a great leader.

But through working on our final leadership paper I found this quote from the Tao Te Ching (chapter 17):

The best leaders are those the people hardly know exist.
The next best is a leader who is loved and praised.
Next comes the one who is feared.
The worst one is the leader that is despised.

If you don’t trust the people,
they will become untrustworthy.

The best leaders value their words, and use them sparingly.
When she has accomplished her task,
the people say, “Amazing:
we did it, all by ourselves!”

This quote was really inspiring to me as an introvert. Here are the lessons i took from it:

  1. The best leaders are those who lead from the background – this means that a good leader isn’t in front trying to take all the credit, but is someone who is pushing their team into the spotlight and allowing them to be successful.
  2. The best leaders are those who trust their team – a good leader will have faith in his or her team to accomplish tasks. The leader shouldn’t have to micromanage and do everything for a team to have success.
  3. The best leaders use words effectively – quiet people can be leaders! It’s not the amount of things that one has to say, but it is more about how valuable those words are that matters.