I am an introvert and not one to raise my voice in a crowd. I seldom have strong opinions. How can I learn enough leadership to chair committees etc.?
[A Quora.com Question]
You don’t need to raise your voice to be heard. I very much see myself as an introvert as well, but can be extroverted when I need to be. I do find it tiring to do so, but with practise you will become accustomed with flipping between these two modes. In my opinion, understanding your own strengths and weaknesses and how to manage them are key to your personal performance.
Firstly, let’s deal with the question; Leadership is a behavioural trait. It is observed as much as it is heard. The skills associated with chairing a group of people are fairly simple. You need to have structure to the meeting such as start on time, minutes are taken etc. ensure that the meeting does not get side-tracked, that decisions are made and clearly understood by all present and that everyone present are heard. Having all these elements boxes ticked will give you confidence in approaching the meeting.
Be honest, you will grow in the role of a chair. The first meeting is always daunting. Explain at the first meeting that this is the case and take care to explain what you expect from all those involved in the discussion such as, you would welcome curtesy and respect to all those present and will not accept anything less.
If you expect it, enforce it: once you have set out what you expect you will need to enforce this through polite but firm and constructive statements. You are sure to have someone who tries to take over the meeting at some point or other; be firm, relevant and to the point. Sometimes you will need to stop the person in his/her tracks to get things moving in the correct direction. Do this firmly and politely explaining why you are redirecting the meeting i.e. due to time constraints.
Secondly, having strong opinions is irrelevant; a chair is a facilitator of proceedings. Try and consider the overall purpose of the meeting at all times, not just the subject being discussed. Aim to maintain balance in discussion: if one view is not being heard due to the views of a passionate advocate of one side then ask questions of people holding the opposite view. The aim is to make good quality decisions, not adopt the position of the person with the loudest voice.
One big ‘No-No’ is to use the chair position to support your personal point of view. If there is a subject that you hold an opinion on, which you are unable to set aside for the purpose of the meeting, then ask someone else to chair the discussion. This will give you an opportunity to voice your thoughts, but in a constructive manner. Again, this will build credibility in your role as a chairperson.
Following an approach similar to that of above will give you confidence, add to this some research online and you will be well equipped for the challenge ahead. And remember, everyone makes mistakes; be open, honest and respectful in the position of chair and you won’t go far wrong. Good luck.
There are some nice rules and guidelines on preparing a meeting etc. at the following site. Its well worth a read:
*All comments are based on my personal experiences and given freely. That said, you need to make your own choices. I can’t and won’t accept liability for you employing any recommendations. Business is all about risk. It’s your choice.
Nigel stone has, over the last fifteen years, started, led, consulted and nurtured both UK and European businesses to achieve quite outstanding results. please feel free to drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org