- Hardcover: 224 pages
- Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press; 1 edition (February 11, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1578514878
- ISBN-13: 978-1578514878
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 50 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #518,483 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Leading Quietly 1st Edition
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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
Top customer reviews
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Leadership often involves working through an organization in just dealing with everyday challenges. Badaracco uses case studies as a means toward accomplishing something meaningful in an uncertain environment when you don't have full power or full information to just "make things happen".
Where this book really shines is illustrating how best to navigate in an environment where there are a number of stakeholders, a number of varying agendas, and a number of potential outcomes. Most people who work in areas where they need to accomplish things with a lot of ambiguity in the environment could learn from the various examples ranging from a new CEO to an individual contributor.
Some key thoughts I found valuable are:
* Gather perspectives from a wide variety of people
* Writing forces clarity and exactness (simplifying through all the details)
* Take rules seriously (integrity/job security)
* Take time to think/reflect before plunging in
* Rethink, imagine, and recast basic dynamics of a situation for innovative approaches
So much of today's world is very fast paced, yet Badaracco shows that taking time to consider all viewpoints and the overall environment can provide a better solution.
I appreciate the insight that few moral dilemmas are of the "sign or die" variety. Also, most leaders are not executives with unchecked dictatorial powers. Most leaders must find a way to obtain the right outcome from an inferior or "middle" position with little direct power. In a large number of cases, a "direct charge" will not only fail, but will likely make the situation worse for everyone, including the leader. Instead this book helps you to understand the tools that will allow you to win without "superior firepower."
I found this book useful for folks who are trying to lead from the middle of an organization. I recommend it highly.
Using case studies and clear prose, the author describes the techniques of quiet leadership, advising us to focus on small things that need to be handled every day. Quiet leaders accept that they will be surprised and will need to make decisions without knowing all of the facts. They are able to trust others, but verify information when possible. Quiet leaders are realists, accepting mixed motives in themselves and others. This allows them to find win-win solutions between individuals and organizations with different needs and goals.
Quiet leaders don't rush--or allow themselves to be rushed--into hasty decisions. They try to buy time to dig into the political and technical details and find a better solution. They build up political capital with others over time and "withdraw" this capital to help solve problems--or get extra time to solve them. Quiet leaders carefully consider drawing on this resource before taking on a problem. They may walk away from a problem they do not have the resources to address. They may bend the rules a bit to solve a problem, being careful to adhere to the principles they are based upon. A compromise is preferable to a conflict. If conflict seems necessary, quiet leaders move toward it carefully, escalating gradually, continually testing and trying for a low-key resolution.
In the closing chapter, Badaracco describes the case study methods used to gather data on quiet leaders and their egotistic counterparts. It is a good implementation of the "critical incident technique" described in Applied Measurement Methods in Industrial Psychology. He also acknowledges that: "Each of the tools presented in this book can be misused. Seeing the world as a complicated and uncertain place can serve as an excuse for not thinking about serious problems. Bending the rules can be an excuse for avoiding plain duties. Buying time and drilling down can evolve into procrastination or cowardice. Some compromises sell out basic principles. Some people invest their political capital so prudently and escalate so gently that they basically do nothing." (p. 169).
This book is highly recommended as a guide to working in a large organization's political environment.