Leading Quietly

Leading Quietly

Language: English

Pages: 224

ISBN: 1578514878

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Most of us think of leaders as courageous risk takers, orchestrators of major events. In a word: heroes. Although such figures are inspiring, Joseph Badaracco argues that their larger-than-life accomplishments are not what makes the world work. What does, he says, is the sum of millions of small yet consequential decisions that individuals working far from the limelight make every day. Badaracco calls them "quiet leaders"--people who choose responsible, behind-the-scenes action over public heroism to resolve tough leadership challenges. Quiet leaders don't fit the stereotype of the bold and gutsy leader, and they don't want to. What they want is to do the "right thing"--for their organizations, their coworkers, and themselves--but inconspicuously and without casualties. Drawing from extensive research, Badaracco presents eight practical yet counter-intuitive guidelines for situations in which right and wrong seem like moving targets. Compelling stories illustrate how these "nonheroes" succeed by managing their political capital, buying themselves time, bending the rules, and more. From the executive suite to the office cubicle--Leading Quietly shows how patient, everyday efforts can add up to a better company and a better world.

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enough to the truth; most people are indeed busy and computers are notoriously unreliable. But we shouldn’t underestimate the skill and self-control that quick fixes sometimes require. In a skeptical, high-pressure world, people can’t simply claim the dog ate their homework. One morning, for example, Paula Wiley, the public relations manager at a large, Washington, D.C. law firm, sat in astonishment as she listened to a request that she not attend a meeting with several partners later in the day.

might protect the employees a little longer. In short, by holding out for a responsible, longterm solution, Williams would be exercising real leadership, not just playing games. Perhaps delay would have worked for Williams, but what if it didn’t? What if his boss told him he had to produce better numbers or else? Then Williams will have to find some way to dissipate the pressure. “Throwing the Boss a Bone” is a proven way to do this. Fortunately, most badly managed operations, like the one

heroic standard of leadership. He didn’t do all he could to take care of Jerome. He hadn’t found him shelter, even for a single night. Instead of taking a risk and following Jerome off the subway, Russo sat and watched the boy walk away. The man with the switchblade had almost attacked Jerome—what other predators awaited him that night? The heroic model is not, however, the right way to think about what Russo did. It defines his problem as straightforward—protecting Jerome and finding him

want to repress what they feel, but they do want to control and channel it as effectively as possible. They realize that taking a forceful stand on principle can be the easy way out of a problem or can make matters worse, so they restrain themselves. Moving at Internet speed is a bad mistake for people going in the wrong direction. 171 L E A D I N G Q U I E T L Y But restraint does far more than help people avoid mistakes. In most cases, quiet leadership would not be possible without a good

efforts to lead. By the end of the course, many students are able to distinguish between the two different approaches to leadership I’ve discussed in this book—one heroic, the other quiet. This distinction is rough and tentative. It doesn’t apply to all of literature or all of life. It does suggest, however, that thinking about leadership primarily in terms of heroic figures can be a partial, misleading, and even hazardous way of seeing the world and trying to make it better. After teaching this

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