Sue Barker was a quiet tennis player on the circuit, yet she is now a legend. We know that because Chris Evert in her tribute to her, shared this piece of information. So a quiet person naturally can become a legend. It isn’t exclusively the noisiest person in the room who is going to be a legend.
Sue Barker really is a legend within the tennis world. As well as the sports broadcasting world. She is also a grand slam winner – having won the French Open. The fact she excelled as a professional tennis player and then has excelled in a completely different profession as a broadcaster. All of a sudden she had to be vocal; challenging guests; leading the discussions with experts. Policing the discussions to ensure everyone had their say. She became the figurehead for tennis broadcasting. Barker regularly appeared on live TV with no notes. She was unflappable and clearly from the tributes, was a hugely popular person. Yet as a younger woman she was very quiet.
I mention the ‘Quiet’ piece because I too was a very quiet person (can you believe it) when I was a young woman. IN fact my Moral Tutor at University (yes, we had moral tutors at my university!) saw me perform at Durham Cathedral and said “I can’t believe what you are doing: you were so quiet at university” It can be very easy to dismiss very quiet people as not the starts of a team or organisation. Yet, as Sue has proved, legends come in all shapes, sizes and volume.
As a leader or manager, how can we nurture everyone’s talent; not just those who dazzle due to their confidence and communication skills?
- Get to know every single one of your team
- For the quieter members of the team, make sure you praise their contributions as much as the noisier members of the team
- Encourage them to speak up more in meetings
- If necessary provide some support or training for their communication skills so they feel confident and comfortable about speaking out
- Encourage them to develop their skills; be more confident and apply for promotion.
We have training and top tips for presenting and becoming more confident speaking out.
We also have a virtual presentation skills online course that people can access for independent learning or to improve a specific skill.
Then you too can be a legend, like Sue Barker.