I watched him walk slowly across the room stopping to talk to several people.  He spoke in a soft voice and actively listened to those that engaged him.  He always asked questions to affirm his understanding of the conversation.  You would often find him talking one on one with someone in a hallway, by a car in the parking lot, and outside of church after everyone else was long gone.

He always spoke softly, a hand on a shoulder, making eye contact.  He knew your family, your boss, where you lived and often what was going on in your life.  If you had a problem that needed solving you could go to his house and his wife would escort you to his study.  It was a dark paneled room with bookcases full of the classics, poetry by Emerson and Thoreau.  A bamboo fly fishing rod was in a glass case by the window.

He would ask you to sit in one of his leather wing-backed chairs and ask in a quiet voice how your family was and after a short conversation ask how he could help you.  He would ask you questions slowly pulling your story out then sit quietly and reflect on what you told him.  Afterwards, he would make a call or write a letter on very expensive stationary and tell you to take it to someone and they would help you.

He was on many boards of directors and even a president or Chairman of the Board on some.  I remember him facilitating a meeting about a new bank the local businessmen were trying to form.  It got a bit rowdy and he found common ground that the two sides could agree on.  He was a powerful man at that time in our small but growing town.  He respected the town’s tradition yet brought about a lot of innovation and change.  He walked that fine line between the town’s heritage and dynamic changes, the two characteristics needed for the town to grow.  He was well respected and loved by everyone for his calm approach to life, his soft-spoken words, and his devotion to the community.  Without a doubt, he was a leader, an advocate for giving back to the community and helping those in need.

Point of View:

We often envision our leaders standing at the crest of a hill, hair blowing in the wind, hand pointing to the distant valley with a crowd gathered behind him.  They are filled with great passion and want to charge across the valley to victory with him.

I wonder if this image is really a leader or just the loudest voice in the crowd.  It is possible that a leader may be soft-spoken, kind, engaging, and a person that works behind the scenes getting things done, making a difference and giving back — a quiet leader.


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Larry Tyler
I have 40 years of Retail Management experience. I am the person they send in to fix things. Call it a Store Focus Specialist, a Smoke Jumper, an Outlaw. I can work within the system or go outside the box when needed. I love walking into chaos and bringing order. I am not a key word person and my education came from mentors not schools. I believe that everything that we do starts with hiring the right people. Driving sales, merchandising, customer service and metrics are just keywords until you hire the right people. My top talents are Recruiting, hiring, training, associate development, and going into a focus store and turning it around. Most importantly I believe in people and that if you teach them, develop them and believe in them they will do far more than they thought possible.
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Kenneth Vincent
Kenneth Vincent

Ah, we should have more men and women like him and fewer self-centered blowhards.

Chris Pehura

I feel that there are different kinds of leaders — ones that physically fight in the arena, ones that verbally fight in assembly, and those that are chosen to lead and contribute not in the fight but be a symbol for that fight.

Steven Jordan
Steven Jordan

Actions speak louder than words. The quiet leader drops the showmanship and get things done. To me, the underlying themes are selflessness and humility.

Sylvester Vanessa
Sylvester Vanessa

Very well said! We should all be more acquainted with different models of leadership. The quiet leader should be respected as much as the extroverted leader, as much as the servant leader, as much as woman leader, etc…
Thank you for posting!

Janice Muchai
Janice Muchai

Thank you for celebrating some of the most ignored embodiment of great leadership. To be committed to making a difference in individual’s, community and organizational life without blowing trumpets of self accomplishment is an admirable trait.

Eric Lake
Eric Lake

Larry, I love the perspective — so true! The story was poignant. Understanding and adding to the story of other people is one of the best ways to build your own story.

The real leaders are often in the back row, not at the front of the room. If you want to turn an organization right side up, turn its leadership inside out!

Aldo Delli Paoli

There are many people who silently, with humility, calmness, conveying their thoughts without ever raising his voice, they have success without show it . Typically they are also people with an insatiable desire to learn, to continue studying the secrets of the game and the firm conviction of not being arrived at their full potential. They speak, yes, softly, but they make themselves understood by others and limit their public appearances to a minimum. These are the characteristics of a leader, but also of many people who are successful without exhibit it .

Chris Pehura

The biggest problem with leadership is that people watch too many cartoons and movies. They figure leaders have to be just like that. No. Leaders can be anyone that inspires us to strive forward.

Bharat Mathur

My very dear friend, Larry, your well-defined image of a Real Servant Leader throws fresh light on a subject we all need to pay attention to.

The trend is changing so fast, much to the chagrin of those of our age and higher that anybody worth his salt carries the mantel of a leader on his/her shoulders.

Remains to be seen their true value when faced with a challenge as they might be the first ones to run with their tail, you know where.

Thanks, with Warm Regards!

Johnny Johnston

Very Christ like in a lot of ways. Great story. J

Johnny Johnston

This is a great story especially now that I know whom it was written about!