We had a day of silence while at Aldermarsh for the PeerSpirit writing workshop. I didn’t know how that would work for me. Life is loud. We are always talking, sometimes all at once, pushing our points of view. But this is a space where cell phones don’t work.
Rather than stare at the wall or cheat by getting on the internet, I took a walk.
In my work at the Incarnate Word Foundation, we are called to the table many times. Board meetings, committee discussions, agency collaboratives and community workgroups–all of these require leadership, and there as many leadership styles as there are leaders. But should leadership be equated with whomever has the loudest voice, or who convened the meeting, or who has the most community standing?
Sometimes the most effective leadership style is quiet.
Sr. Mary was the foundation’s Board chair for nine years. During that time she practiced what I have come to think of as quiet leadership. The fundamentals are simple:
Listen to the ideas of others before you speak.
Don’t become consumed with anxiety about getting your idea out on the table.
Focus on making the outcome one that incorporates the best thinking of the group rather than furthering a personal agenda.
Stay calm and respect the integrity of each person involved in the discussion.
When I began walking the woods at Aldermarsh, I started in aimless silence only to become aware of murmuring sounds at every turn, leading me down the path and through the labyrinth.