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Leading Quietly 1st Edition

3.7 out of 5 stars 46 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1578514878
ISBN-10: 0486634159
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When we think of great leaders, it's usually the charismatic, globally influential Churchill, Patton, Jack Welch who spring to mind. But as Harvard Business School professor Badaracco (Defining Moments: When Managers Must Choose Between Right and Right) correctly points out, everyday leadership is not so dramatic, and daily leadership decisions are rarely carried out at the top of an organization. Badaracco focuses here is on helping the middle- and senior-level managers who make the ordinary decisions that ultimately determine an organization's success. As he puts it: "What usually matters are careful, thoughtful, small, practical efforts by people working far from the limelight. In short, quiet leadership is what moves and changes the world." Out of a four-year study of these real-life leaders, Badaracco describes eight strategies for making effective leadership decisions in murky situations where the "right" thing is far from obvious. The strategies range from the commonsensical (truly examine the question at hand; don't ignore corporate politics) to the counterintuitive (don't expect to be wholly altruistic and accept that some of your motives are self-interested; try not to make important decisions as quickly as possible). Badaracco presents each principle with a brief introduction, followed by a case study and summary of the lessons to be learned. The sum is a useful checklist middle-level managers can put to work immediately.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


Leading Quietly is a fresh approach to making our way in the world. -- USA Today, June 24, 2002

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press; 1 edition (February 11, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486634159
  • ISBN-13: 978-1578514878
  • ASIN: 1578514878
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #223,859 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
In Leading Quietly, Joseph L. Badaracco observes that society tends to think about leadership primarily in terms of heroic figures. His readers have been taught from their childhood to show respect for the efforts and sacrifices of great men and women. Often, his readers are not properly informed about the fact that most sung heroes like Winston Churchill or Mother Teresa worked, quietly and patiently, for years or decades, before their key contribution to society was widely acknowledged.
To his credit, Badaracco celebrates modest, unassuming men and women with their mixed and complicated motives. Like most of his audience, those men and women will probably never be in the limelight but make the world a better place through countless, small, often unseen efforts. Badaracco convincingly demonstrates that it is given to almost all his audience to learn and practice the simple virtues of quiet leadership, e.g.: Restraint, modesty, and tenacity.
Contrary to some wisdom, quiet leaders
1) Buy time.
2) Drill down into the political and technical elements of the problems they face.
3) Invest their political capital wisely.
4) Nudge, test, and escalate gradually.
5) Find ways, when necessary, to bend the rules.
6) View compromise as a high form of leadership and creativity.
In his recently published Good To Great, Jim Collins interestingly comes to the conclusion that the CEOs of great companies turning around good companies successfully are usually humble, modest, and tenacious. Is quiet leadership from top to bottom within any organization the future?
In a second edition of Leading Quietly, Badaracco could perhaps use both success stories and failures to illustrate each guideline for practicing quiet leadership.
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Format: Hardcover
Professor Badaracco acknowledges here what conventional wisdom on business ethics might suggest before he presents a well-argued case for why the stock responses that call for black and white behavior are not always the most effective options for individual choices. Badaracco's take that the quiet leader doesn't knee-jerkingly draw a line in the sand and say, "this is right; this is wrong; I will not cross this line" might strike some readers as coping out or compromising at the expense of doing the absolute right thing. But careful readers will discover that Badaracco's notion isn't to cave when right action is called for, but rather to look more broadly at the issues and make more informed decisions. Main strengths: 1) provocative, well-articulated argument; 2) clarity of writing; and 3) clear case studies to support argument of the book.
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Format: Hardcover
"Leading Quietly" is the result of a professional five year study on leadership by Joseph Badaracco. It is NOT your run-of-the-mill "how-to" book on the subject, designed primarily to make money. That sets it apart from all the other books out there. As a Harvard professor, the author uses the same type of case study methodology as is used in the MBA and Law School programs. I found that "Leading Quietly", standing alone, was enjoyable and useful enough to recommend to everyone interested in character and leadership. But, following suggestions I read on Amazon.com, I went on to read Norman Thomas Remick's "West Point: Character Leadership Education....Thomas Jefferson", and found the combination of the two books to be a dynamite education on character and leadership. I can only say thankyou to Amazon.com for leading this horse to water. I strongly recommend that you do the same ----- if you really want to be a good leader.
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Format: Hardcover
Instead of Leading Quietly, this book should have been titled "Manuevering Quietly." It discusses the nuts and bolts of approaching problems without falling on your sword, but I failed to find real leadership principles applied.
For one thing, leaders have followers and many of the case studies involved (roughly half) depicted people who had to solve an ethical problem, yet they did not have anyone following them. The protagonists navigated their way through murky waters, but there weren't taking anyone anywhere. That's why I think "Manuevering Quietly" would have been more appropriate.
And yet, it's an intriguing concept. Who has not stood up for an ethical principle and been punched in the nose, ultimately thwarting any potential influence to be applied down the line? Like Jim Collins and Jerry Porras' Built To Last, Badaracco advises us to not always think in black and white, right and wrong terms, that the sooner we realize every situation has infinite shades of gray, the better off we are to handle the conplexities of our problems.
Many critique this book because they feel it reduced ethics to a worldview of pragmatism, but I think Badaracco emphasizes the importance of character and caring enough to where he's not preaching a nihilistic approach to problem solving. The bottom line is if you're often in a rock and a hard place and the most likely thing to get smushed is you, Leading Quietly can help you get out of the way without compromising your principles. And that's applaudable.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was very disappointed in this effort from a Harvard Business School professor. Not only did I think that this book would deal with the ethics of leadership, I also was expecting to read about success stories of leaders. Although the stories presented do show some of the elements that leaders can use to accomplish things quietly, the reader is left hanging as to what long term impact is felt from the decisions made. For example, the first story used is of a new hospital administrator who faces a difficult situation and resolves it using the techniques of a quiet leader,ultimately leading the second in command to tender his resignation. The disappointment is that we never find out if the administrator has lost the ability to lead those left behind or what other long term impacts there are to this type of leadership.
All of the other vignettes follow the same pattern, with no long term follow up on the effectiveness of these leaders, and how they dealt with other leadership challenges that arise in the future. This is also shown in the story of a new Army captain who reports a lapse on the part of inspectors, which is greeted by superiors with a "That is good to know", and then we never find out what changes are made to improve the situation, or if the captain is labeled by superiors as someone not to trust, or, hopefully, as someone with strong character.
However, what scared me most about this book was the chapter entitled "Buy a Little Time". In this chapter the author reflects that "But if he must choose between creative accounting and firing people unfairly, Williams may need to depart from highest standards of accounting precision and play some of the games that managers often play." (p.
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