I suspect what doesn’t come to mind is “Myrtle,” and now I’m being sneaky because Myrtle isn’t a name you know about leadership. But perhaps you need to. I’m reading Brian Harris’ really fine book called The Tortoise Usually Wins: Biblical Reflections on Quiet Leadership for Reluctant Leaders. I know Brian, and he’s personally quiet but if you take time to listen you will rise up can call me and Brian blessed. That I promise you.
When I think of “leader” I think of “up front” and “in charge” and “energy” and “in the middle of things.”
What do you think of “quiet leadership”?
“Some people,” Brian says, “are born to lead.” I agree with him. They’re very obvious. “This book is not written for them.” Now that’s a leadership book we need because my experience with pastors around the globe leads me to think that there are as many reluctant quiet leaders as there are born leaders. And Brian’s got a book for the reluctant leader we can all benefit from. [And I'm blogging about a book on leadership after claiming I'd never do another one because I'm tired of leadership books about leadership that is not theological...on to the book.]
Quiet leaders are steady plodders. They are not looking to lead and they are not convinced they are the best leader and they don’t dream huge vision and sell everyone one it and beat the size of the church down the street or that you served last … instead: “the best journeys aren’t undertaken to defeat someone else, but because they are the journey we want to undertake” (3). That is, this is where I’m headed and I think you might be going with me, care to join? That’s quiet leadership.
So what is it? “Quiet leadership is a theory of leadership that sidesteps questions of charisma, and when looking at the characteristics of a leader focuses on leadership virtues and values, rather than innate abilities” (4). We live in the age of the cult of personality. And this is one of the best lines in the whole book: traditional models of leadership “focus on leaders rather than on leadership” (5).
Lots of leaders are like this but some folks only want the hero leader.
Brian sketches four kinds of leaders:
1. Heroic: focuses on the characteristics of a leader.
2. Position: focuses on the position of authority or leadership a person has — school principal.
3. Influence: focuses on looking behind to see how influential a person is.
4. Outcomes: focuses on looking behind to see how many are following or what’s happening.