“T” is for Timid

(This is the “T” installment of the series, “Alphabet for Leaders.”)

You don’t have to be charismatic to be a great leader. Needing the spotlight hinders rather than helps leadership success. However…

Leaders can’t be timid.

Timid = fearful, lacking conviction or boldness or courage.

Timid and shy are two different things. Jim Collins indicates that great leaders don’t need the spot-light. They are not larger-than-life. They are quiet, shy, self-effacing, and reserved. However, they aren’t driven by fear. They aren’t timid. They are driven by conviction. They have courage.

Quiet and weak are two different things. One of my fatal leadership blunders was underestimating quiet people. Quiet people are frequently strong, tenacious, dedicated individuals who know how to stay on target and get the job done.

One expression of timidity is excuses. Timid people are stay-the-samers. They have millions of imagined reasons why things should stay the same. On the other hand, under the surface of some quiet people sits a tenacious tiger driven by courage and conviction. Wake the Tiger at your own peril!

Successful leaders aren’t timid they are tenacious. They face hard truths and have tough conversations. They quietly press through resistance. They quietly grind “enemies” into dust.

Two ways to overcoming timidity

Timid people can become tigers if they embrace a compelling vision for themselves or their organization. Vision signals a shift from fear-driven to making-a-difference-driven living. Vision overcomes excuses.

Overcome timidity by loving something deeply. Many of the timid folks I know are married. How did they face relational fears? Love overcame their fear. Love your organization. Love your people enough to have the tough conversation. Love is simply a commitment to another’s highest good.

Today is a good day to face timidity.


Have you seen a quiet person become a tiger?

How can leaders overcome timidity?

What other “T’s” for leaders can you offer?