David Harding: How to use confidence, quietness and timing to make a difference in leadership

You need to stick out in today’s world.

Seth Godin, entrepreneur and author, says, “Taking a stand requires guts. You will stick out and get noticed. Your stand may be controversial. Brazen. Or provide an uncomfortable truth.” You will absolutely be judged. But reasonable people will appreciate that you took the chance and showed your resolve.

The alternative to taking a stand is certainly safer. But speaking your truth is more satisfying. You can have either, not both: Stand out or fit in. Not all the time, and never at the same time, but it’s always a choice.

Those who choose to fit in should expect to avoid criticism (and be ignored). Those who stand out should expect neither.

Every success story is rooted in hard work, motivation and persistence. Sure, being at the right place at the right time helps. But even that is dependent upon an astute appreciation of what, where and why the right time and place exist.

Research, homework, focus

Do your homework. Knock on doors. Do your due diligence. Stay focused. Keep up with new technology. Find a way to break through. There are no shortcuts worth taking.

Whether you consider yourself a great author, architect, brain surgeon or sculptor, it doesn’t matter how gifted you are if your work doesn’t get written, built, used or created. You have to stop daydreaming, planning and procrastinating at some point. If you have a brilliant plan but it remains undiscovered or unfinished, what’s holding you back?

Stop worrying about perfection, funding or selling your idea. Just go for it and sink or swim. It’s the only way to find out if you really are brilliant, gifted and worthy.

The value of quietness

It’s a noisy world. I appreciate this most when I’m enjoying a breather in my own schedule. I recently read Roberta Matuson’s “Fast Company” blog and realized how much being quiet not only strengthens focus and productivity but also leadership ability.

It’s easy to overlook the fact that the most productive people in an organization aren’t the ones who make the most noise. It’s usually the quiet ones who get the most done. Here’s what Matuson says about quiet leadership: “Being quiet calms others. Quiet people have the ability to calm those around them. For example, when everyone is stressing out because it looks like a team isn’t going to meet their deadlines, it’s usually the quiet people who are able to calm people down and carry them over the finish line.”

Quiet leaders project confidence. Calm and quiet in the midst of a storm allow the time and space needed to focus on the important issues at hand and allow your team to learn to do the same.

The advantage of the morning

I’m most alert the first thing in the morning. So that’s when I tend to schedule the things that require the most effort — be it brainpower, physical activity or creativity.

What successful people do with their first hour of every day — often before going into the office — is fascinating. Before that first power breakfast or staff meeting, the first hour of the day may be best served by planning. That’s because the first hour of each day is the hour you see everything most clearly and focus on the human side of work rather than your task list.

Writer, speaker and “Fast Company” blogger Tony Robbins writes, “Remember when you used to have a period at the beginning of every day to think about your schedule, catch up with friends, maybe knock out a few tasks? It was called homeroom, and it went away after high school. But many successful people schedule themselves a kind of grown-up homeroom every day. You should, too.”

Your first hour is a quiet gem. Use it to keep the rest of your day functioning at its best. <<

David Harding is president and CEO of HardingPoorman Group, a locally owned and operated graphic communications firm in Indianapolis consisting of several integrated companies under one roof. The company has been voted one of the “Best Places to Work” in Indiana by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. Harding can be reached at [email protected] For more information, go to www.hardingpoorman.com.