Muffle It

“The Leader’s voice always speaks the loudest”

“When  decision needs to be made, a leader will eventually emerge.”

I’m not sure if these are direct quotes from anyone, but they are phrases that have stuck with me.

Leaders are seemingly born to take charge.  We do this naturally.  If we feel the slightest bit of lack of direction, we step in to save the day.

But when positional leadership collides with natural leadership, you may find a gap in leadership development throughout the organization.  Natural leaders will always step up and speak up, and when that natural leader is a positional leader, both that leader and the team expect him to always play the part.

As the leader of your organization, how are you letting other leadership voices surface?

In meetings and decision making environments, does your team always wait for you to speak up?

What happens if you don’t?

I’m gonna bet it gets really quiet until you just can’t stand it and you take charge once again.  Right?

This is another big, massive grey leadership issue for us to tackle as leaders.

We’ve got to understand the power of our voice and we have to be willing to muffle it sometimes for the sake of the development of our teams.

So how do you muffle your voice?

1.) Allow awkward moments to exist. Get comfortable with the silence and encourage others to speak up.

2.) Remove yourself. Are there meetings that you need to purposefully NOT be a part of so that another leader has to take the reigns?

3.) Don’t answer questions directly.  Don’t spoon feed instruction.  Ask questions that help your staff make decisions on their own.

As leaders we become so programmed to provide direction, solve problems and take charge that we sometimes forget that our most important responsibility is to develop others around us. There are plenty of times where your natural leadership or positional leadership will require you to be a strong voice, but look for the opportunities to muffle it and let other voices shine!

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  • Kyle McClain August 3, 2010  

    Awesome topic, what a great ideas to help develop those you lead.

    For me I had to learn not jump in knee deep anytime anyone brought a problem or a task to my attention. I had to learn to push back even if I had the time to help. I started to require they before they brought anything to me they had to have a plan of attack with it.

    • jcatron August 4, 2010  

      Kyle, I can relate to that tendency to always want to jump in. You think you are being helpful, but you can just create dependency. Thanks for chiming in!

  • Les Hutchinson August 3, 2010  

    Over time, my team has got used to me not speaking or speaking last. Initially there were awkward silences, occasionally I left the room, but now they know that if I ask for their input I mean it and will listen. Actually, they don't have to wait for permission to speak – as a team we are able to have conversations, even difficult ones, with respect for each other and a bit of fun along the way.
    My advice to anyone wanting to try it – give it time, and be consistent.

    • jcatron August 4, 2010  

      Les, thanks for giving us some positive reinforcement!

  • pete wilson August 4, 2010  

    Hey, why don't you "muffle it" and stop preaching to ME in this post. 🙂 Good stuff Catron.

  • Shane Moore August 17, 2010  

    Hello, you have no idea who I am but I love what you wrote about on this topic. Your are right on and may God bless you even more!

    • jcatron August 17, 2010  

      Thanks so much, Shane. Thanks for commenting.