“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?
An inspiring and motivating post. I agree that love connects and alleviates fear.Quiet person becomes tiger when he realities his potential and capabilities.When we ask others to judge us, we carry others remarks and that becomes perception of other people. But when quiet people believes on their inner strength and compete with themselves rather than others, then they become tigers. So, it is looking and competing inwards that outwards. To overcome your timidity, you have to love yourself. you have to belief in you, your actions and decisions.
The T of leaderships are- transparency, time, today, task, takeaway etc. Leader has to be transparent in all his dealings. He should respect time believe that today is the greatest day and always takeaway from task he deals with.
I anticipate your arrival every morning. Thank you for consistently sharing your ideas, suggestions, and insights.
I think you are so right. A quiet person who doesn’t understand their potential is timid/fearful. This means a leader may be able to elevate and motivate timid people by helping them see their strengths/potential.
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Great post! Personally I have a very hard time following a timid “leader” (I often use the term “mousey”).
They do not inspire confidence, they do not give the impression that they have your back, they don’t seem like they’ll go to bat for you and the team…in general, timid “leaders” present a significant constraint on the people they are tasked to lead.
I also love how you’ve illustrated that powerful, inspirational leadership really doesn’t have much to do with our level of extroversion. Vocal doesn’t equal brave (I’ve known some pretty loud cowards). Talkative doesn’t equal passionate and committed (we’ve all seen the people who talk a big game but never act).
In my experience, the best leaders are those that are completely authentic. They are who they are, and don’t try to be something else. If they are quieter by nature it’s fine – we usually know that when they open their mouths something worthwhile will come out. If they are more verbose we know that it’s not just hot air, but that it will be accompanied by action.
Thank you for the good word.
I love how you bring the dimension of “inspiring others” to the conversation. Excelling point that adds value with great illustrations.
“I’ve known some pretty loud cowards.” LOve it! 🙂
I appreciate you sharing your perspective on this important topic.
Good post. I’ve seen folks think of quiet or uncharismatic leaders as timid, when really they’re just not flashy. I’ve even heard that one of Jim Collins’ Level V leaders was thought of as timid because he was introverted…as he totally turned the company around. Timidity has no place in leadership, and wise leaders do not Tolerate Toadies.
My Ts: tactics (best strategy in the world will fail with wrong tactics) and target (from a marketing point of view, who are you trying to motivate?).
Back to my Tumultuous morning!
I used this leadership weakness to my advantage as a lowly Private in the Army. Overcompensating leaders who felt they know everything can easily be undermined by a smart, silent Private.
I’m always amused by leaders who mistake quiet for compliance. When this fatal flaw is connected to an inability to learn I know the organization is a prescription for failure.
I put those organizations on my list for my Executive recruiter friend, because it won’t be long before they have to replace the leadership.
I’ve actually finally revealed all my secret office politics I used as an enlisted soldier in the Army. I spilled my guts on every tactic to win without authority or influence.
If you’re interested, it’s all free at my blog:
BUT… I warn you, it could get ugly if used in the wrong hands. They didn’t call me the little instigator for nothing 😉
Dan loved this post. Great insight. Thanks for enriching us everyday with your wisdom. It helps me to align myself to true, authentic leadership. I like the phrase “quietly grind “enemies” into dust”. Seriously love it!
You have grown much stronger in teaching the alphabets with thoughtful views. I wonder what could be the stage of your confidence once you reach the last alphabet of Z? You have really learnt the art of communicating your ideas like any effective, successful leader will always do.
‘T is timidity but leaders are not timid. They are driven by conviction. They have courage.’ What powerful ideas that you have exchanged. I consider this as a cover drive for four in cricketing language. And then comes a sixer, ‘Vision overcomes excuses’. Too good!
I take T as timeliness and thanksgiving attitude of a successful leader. I salute you for your most inspiring writings.
Leadership seeks what is True.
True leaders believe that we all can become transcendent…that we can exceed what we perceive as our limits.
Transcendent leadership is a rare gift and talent.
True leaders are tenacious when it comes to values, focus, & principles.
Tenacious leaders do not try…they do.
Talented leaders teach continuously, effortlessly and with impeccable timing.
And, tangentially, it is great being part of the Leadership Freak’s Tribe!
Being timid is predorminantly associated with “not assertive”.
Last week, a very soft, humble, quite and unassuming person lost his cool and punched his subordinate over an argument relating to some unfinished work schedule. Now, would that fall under the category of being lacking fear or courageuos?.
Eventhough it was one way of demonstrating the spirit of the tiger, I would not classify it as being assertive or courageous. In fact, the guy who walked away without
I fully support your call for Envisioning and Love. It’s so sad to see people in organisations, both leader and led, failing to anchor their work to the far away vision goals. They get so caught up with turf wars and silo rivalries that they get sucked into a whirlpool state of helplessness. I am quite lost as to the motivation of the present day generation of Y. To see these electronically wired and braveheart material generation succumb to the “timid” based command and control mode of operation, is indeed mind boggling. I suppose, it’s one of those environmental conditioning paradigms affected by geographically linked cultural factors.
Don’t be afraid to switch away from your original core business when the revenue starts to tank. Unlike what Jim Collins preaches in his books, Adam Hartung has proof there is a different approach