I have a weird tradition (at least according to my children) – I like to run in the middle of blizzards. I have learned to love it because of the silence I experience. Although I live in Michigan, sometimes it does not snow enough.
Most leaders I meet with display a real skill for driving action and results. Through one of the assessments I use, the Birkman Method, some of those leaders realize they have internal needs for time to rejuvenate. Silence helps them recover.
Unfortunately, leaders don’t get rewarded for silence, only action and results. The problem is without the former, focusing solely on the latter becomes a habit that can be destructive to ourselves and others.
Making a personal change requires focus and awareness, which requires some level of silence. A mentor of mine, Doug Silsbee, teaches a technique that gives the body a moment of silence. He calls it centering. Here is a link to his demonstration. Our ability to adopt new ways of doing things or to deal with an unexpected event depends on our ability to center, to find silence.
If you don’t think you need it, at least allow others around you to create it.
I like 6am in my house, because it is quiet. The challenge with external quiet is that it makes any internal noise louder.
Silence is powerful.
In an interview it tells the candidate that the question you asked is important enough to wait for an answer.
In a one on one with a team member it allows the leader to send the message what you have to say matters to me.
In a team discussion it allows the person who is hesitant to talk the time to muster up the courage to say something.
What people do with silence tells me a lot about who they are. I once interviewed with someone who filled the 75 minute interview with 60 minutes of what they thought. A warning sign . . . . but I still took the job. Ended up reporting to this person 3 months later. It did not end well.
Test your ability to create and use silence:
Turn off everything electronic for 60 minutes during a day. What did the silence reveal for you?
Go into a meeting with your team armed with only questions. What did your silence allow your team to reveal?
On your drive home today turn off your radio and phone. How did you use the silence?
Leaders need to be creators of silence for themselves and others.