He was a strong Quiet Leader

I stood on the back of the fast ferry to Nantucket for an hour in each direction, the wind whipping my hair in all directions. My travel mates preferred the air conditioned comfort inside. For me, the ocean air and alone time were comfort.   

Something in my inner core responds to being near the water. Ocean, lake, river, stream, heck, I’ll take a sparkling pond if it’s available. Waves lapping, water rippling, clouds reflecting, it relaxes, refreshes, refuels me.

John F. Kennedy loved the water, too. At the small JFK Hyannis Museum, photos showed him on his treasured 25 foot getaway, Victura, his favorite sailboat from his 15th birthday until he was 35th POTUS. “I always go to Hyannisport to be revived,” he wrote, “to know again the power of the sea, and the Master who rules over it and all of us.”  

As I explored the photos, his quotes and writings, it hit me that JFK was a Quiet Leader (QL). Like many QLs, he was comfortable in the limelight but returned when he could to the place that fed his soul. *

QLs instinctively extricate themselves from the hubbub that drains their energy. We can’t always get away, but sometimes a brief break does the trick. Whether for a few moments or hours, we all have our getaways. “I’d rather read a book on a plane than talk to the fellow next to me,” JFK said. I’ve done that many times.  

Learning what QLs do for their think time and to flourish in roles that are far from quiet are some of the fascinating outcomes from my 100 QL interview project. I’m impressed with their humility as we’ve talked about their accomplishments and strengths.

It would be invaluable to include your thoughts and experiences in my research. If you are a leader who does your best thinking and refuels with quiet time, and would like to be part of my research project by being interviewed, I’d love to hear from you. (Thank you to those who already have been interviewed!)

I’ve heard from some that it was energizing to talk about what works best for them. I’m glad. I look forward to using what I learn to help more QLs capitalize on their talents and strengths.

* JFK thought of himself as the antithesis of some politicians. In an interview days after announcing his run for President, he said “Everybody isn’t an extrovert in politics. I would say that a lot of the Senate certainly are not extroverts … I just don’t think you have to have that type of personality today in politics. I think you have to be able to communicate a sense of conviction and intelligence and…some integrity. That’s what you have to be able to do. This hail-fellow is passe’ in many ways. Those three qualities are really it.
The Atlantic, September 17, 2012
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