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Leading with silence

Dec. 25, 2017 | by Mark Deterding

Silent Night, Holy Night is one of my all time favorite Christmas Carols. It brings back many positive memories of one of the most special times of the year. The song reminds me of times with my family worshiping on the eve of the celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus.

The song reminds me about the silence in which the “wondrous gift was given to us” in the humble setting of rural Bethlehem.  I love that Jesus, the ultimate model of servant leadership, arrived in this world teaching lessons on leadership from day one on Christmas morning.

Are you listening to what He is saying?

This song talks about the silence and calm of things when Jesus was born and the peace that follows. You can feel the calm as Jesus entered this world in the most humble of ways, without any fanfare or pomp and circumstance. The humility that he showed upon His birth into this world continued to be evident throughout His life and is a great model for servant leadership.

But the shear silence and calm of the event provides lessons as well. It is important for you to get comfortable with silence because, when used properly, it is what will enable you to learn, to build relationships, and to build trust.

For leaders silence is:

• The source of acknowledgement

• The presence of appreciation

• The beginning of connecting one with another

Too often leaders feel the need to fill space with conversation or they  lead with ideas, as opposed to allowing for initial calm and curiosity to promote true learning.

I am rather inclined to silence, and whether that be wise or not, it is at least more unusual nowadays to find a man who can hold his tongue than to find one who cannot. – Abraham Lincoln

President Lincoln was a life-long learner. He knew that you could not learn while you were talking. He valued silence and listening to help him better serve others.

Embrace the silence

This coming week as you connect with the silence of the moment in anticipation of the Christ Child, I challenge you to lead with silence and calm as well. Start with silence and listen to understand, so that others will be encouraged to share with you. Suspend judgment and just listen! It is one of the best gifts that a servant leader can provide.

As you reflect in silence this week on the gift of the season, I wish you all peace, joy and a Blessed Christmas with your family and friends!


Mark Deterding

Mark Deterding is the founder and principal of Triune Leadership Services, LLC. In 2011 he formed Triune Leadership Services to follow his passion of working with leaders to help them develop core servant leadership capabilities that allow them to lead at a higher level and enable them to achieve their God-given potential.

Mark has authored two books – Leading Jesus’ Way, and A Model of Servant Leadership.

As an executive coach and servant leadership development  consultant he specializes in working with high-performing professionals to develop their capabilities and achieve their objectives. Working with organizations, leadership teams, and executives one-on-one, he helps bring focus, clarity, and action to make things work.

Prior to Triune Leadership Services he worked for 35 years in the printing industry holding senior leadership positions at Taylor Corporation, RR Donnelly, and Banta Corporation. He is an accomplished executive with a proven track record for developing purpose-driven; values based teams that drive culture improvement, enhance employee passion, and improve business results. He is featured in Ken Blanchard’s book “Leading at a Higher Level”, and he has been a featured speaker for the Ken Blanchard Companies Executive Forum in both 2007 and 2011. He regularly speaks to organizations and executive forums on the principles of servant leadership and how to practically apply it to their lives.

In addition to his duties at Triune Leadership Services, Mark also serves on the Board of Directors for the Unity Foundation in Alexandria, MN, for Mt. Carmel Ministries in Alexandria, MN, and NorthStar Christian Academy in Alexandria, MN.

He is married to his wife Kim, and they have two sons, two lovely daughter-in-laws, and three wonderful grandchildren.



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