How Could Silence Make You A More Effective Leader?

UKSnow February 2012

UKSnow February 2012 (Photo credit: AndyRobertsPhotos)

Silence requires one to be present … in the present. To find ones center. While this may sound at odds with the competitive nature of leadership I recognize the responsibility of leaders to create profitable bottom-line results. Which is as it should be. Nevertheless, a leader moves first his or her own being before a process. Listening to others, fostering trust and purpose begins with trusting ourselves. And hence, trusting ourselves must start with listening which comes from silence. Find a moment in your office or on walks to center. You’ll find it to be as I did stress relieving. This article by Mary Jo Asmus gives a few suggestions on finding our inner purpose.

“I know what your typical day is like. I’ve not only lived it, but I’ve coached leaders who have constant interruptions when we are working together. I’ve heard employees like yours talk about how their manager is distracted. Being busy is seductive, and those distractions are “busy-ness” that can take away from your ability to be the best leader you can be. Your best nearly always happens in moments of “presence.”

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Being present is a necessity for all leaders that goes far beyond just physically showing up. It is, as Halpern and Lubar explain in Leadership Presence, “The ability to be completely in the moment and flexible enough to handle the unexpected.” Presence, the opposite of distraction, invokes resilience, improved relationships, motivation and inspiration. It is generated by bringing silence into your life that is generated by going inward in order to take the journey that allows you to lead with heart to be with others in the here and now.

Ultimately, effective action depends on presence. Mark Gerzon, in his book “Leading Through Conflict,” tells of a situation where a group of executives intentionally moved through silence, reflection and presence – out of passive roles into active engagement. When asked about the connection between presence and action, a senior executive commented that the team moved out of a victim mode into becoming players because “a player has a full range of choices and a victim doesn’t.”

Silence is the foundation for being present. When we bring silence into our life, we also find that we can learn to be present with greater ease.

Ask yourself:

•    When have I felt most alive and fully conscious?

•    When have I been most effective at leading?

•    How could a disciplined practice of silence bring about a greater sense of presence in my life?

•    What improvements could occur in my leadership through being more present?

•    What will it take to bring a discipline of silence into my life?

•    What practices that bring about silence could I try? What am I comfortable doing?”

Read more via  Aspire-CS.


Jim Woods is president of The Jim Woods Group. A management consulting firm. Go here to see his work He advises and speaks to organizations large and small on how to increase top line growth in times of uncertainty and complexity. Some of his speaking and consulting clients include: U.S. Army, MITRE Corporation, Pitney Bowes, Whirlpool, and 3M. See more at his website

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