5 Tips for Quiet Leaders to Become Courageous
By: Heather Hall
I’m sure you’ve noticed, in your office and (perhaps) even on your team, that we need more courageous leaders.
You’ve probably been looking around, trying to spot the best talent or the colleague most likely to take the risk.
What if YOU are the one who’s destined to be a courageous leader?
If you’re like most of the introverts I work with, you know where someone needs to step up and say the thing no one wants to hear or take the action everyone’s afraid to consider. You’re a keen observer, so you have a sixth sense of the organization and can often spot problems before they erupt. And, as a strategic thinker, you’re already running scenarios in your mind.
Being courageous doesn’t mean knowing all the answers, taking a bullet for another, or pulling your boss’s rear out of the fire. And being courageous doesn’t mean you’re free of fear. In fact, it means doing the hard thing even though you’re afraid.
Showing up can sometimes be courageous. Naming bad behavior on your team or admitting a mistake made with a client is courageous. Raising your hand and taking on that problem project or challenging vendor can be courageous.
These are challenges for all of us, and, as an introvert, I know we sometimes feel like that’s the kind of thing Mr. Big Mouth or Miss Merry should do. Here’s the thing: Aligning with our top values is a job for each and every one of us.
Five ways you can lean into your courage include:
Speak up and share your ideas – As a quiet leader, you want time to consider the information and weigh the options carefully. When you know what you’d like to say, getting airtime in team
meetings can be hard. One way to get into the conversation is to build on someone else’s idea. For example, “Stephanie has a great idea with ABC, and I think we could leverage our experience with LMN to achieve XYZ.” If you are bringing an idea to the meeting, let the organizer know beforehand that you’d like to contribute when we get to that item on the agenda.
Request and receive feedback – It can be vulnerable to ask for and receive feedback on your performance. It’s important to choose your adviser carefully, pick the right time to ask and take their advice with a grain of salt. When selecting a task or project for critique, consider what you hope to achieve. For example, are you looking for a reality check on a meeting that went awry or seeking support as you practice an upcoming presentation? Incorporating genuine feedback is a great way to improve your visibility and impact.
Admit mistakes and make amends – This is an area where I’ve seen many aspiring leaders stumble, but it’s a great opportunity to build trust and honor relationships, two areas where introverts excel. The leader who can honestly assess a problem and own their role in it will win more clients and build stronger teams. Since you’re naturally a solution-oriented problem solver, you’ll recognize the opportunity to make it right for your client or colleague, and they’ll appreciate your proactive solution.
Give yourself permission to not know it all – Your boss and team will quickly come to trust your zone of genius and rely on you to have all the answers. That can be expedient in a crisis, but it makes your team less productive day to day. If you can resist the urge to know it all, you can lean into your curiosity and be open to possibilities. You may even come up with a novel solution that saves time and/or money.
Stretch your comfort zone – I don’t believe everything that’s good happens outside your comfort zone. I do, however, believe that we need to stretch a bit. Leaning into our growth edge keeps things exciting and engaging. We don’t have to do it all at once, and we don’t need to do it alone. Mentors, advisers, and business besties can cheer us along the way. And working with a coach is a great way to get the support we need as we lean in with courage.
If you’d like to become a more courageous leader, join our PPCaDI Leadership Community (https://www.ppcadileadership.com/feed).