Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Company Politics - Is there a quiet approach?

It's impossible to avoid company politics. In fact, research by Accountemps, the employment firm, cites that executives waste 20 percent of there day dealing with office politics. The work place is inherently political.

You know that writing from this blog I am compelled to ask the question, "What is the quiet way to deal with the politics?" I like the suggestions coming from the Center for Creative Leadership in their April 2007 newsletter. Author Jean Leslie recommends four skills or approaches toward workplace politics:
  • Think before you speak.
  • Manage up — to a point.
  • Practice influence.
  • Hone your powers of perception.
  • Learn to network.
  • Be sincere.
The same article also directed me to the work on Gerald Ferris of Florida State University. His research has linked high political skill in the workplace to workplace performance. And another favorite quote, "Leaders who are not politically skilled come off as manipulative or self-serving." This quote is likely to bring to mind the names of colleagues you have seen in your past. It does for me. (Note to self, I'd like to read more of Professor Ferris' research)

Thanks for reading. Please lead quietly.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

12 Rules for Self Leadership

My leadership reading this week courtesy of allowed me to discover an insightful list on the site. Written by author and consultant Rosa Say the list presents 12 Rules for Self-Leadership. The entire list was insightful but items #2, 4, 11, and 12 resonated with me and my notion of Quiet Leadership. Please enjoy.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Servant Leadership

Servant Leadership

I credit Dave Thompson, a previous manager of mine at Pearson for first presenting the concept of Servant Leadership to me in one of our frequent discussions on leadership. The concept he presented was pretty simple, “leaders are servants.” His insight was enough to get me started and hungry for more details. Thanks Dave.

Servant leadership, although a concept that can be traced back thousands of years, was coined by Robert Greenleaf in his work in the early 1970s. My studied pursuit pointed me to hundreds of books and resources but a specific list, Ten Characteristics of Effective, Caring Leaders written by Larry Spears at the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership really resonated with me and my thoughts on quiet leadership. Here is his list of ten characteristics:

  • Listening
  • Empathy
  • Healing
  • Awareness
  • Persuasion
  • Conceptualization
  • Foresight
  • Stewardship
  • Commitment to the growth of people
  • Building Community

More than another other list of virtues, these characteristics seem to be the the tools of quiet leadership. Check out the list and the description.

Thanks for reading


Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Quiet General Grant

I remember the surprising revelation on U.S. Grant's leadership style. My perception was that General Grant was the hero general who inherited the failed or mediocre efforts of previous Union commanders and reversed the course of the war. The surprise was in discovering that Grant was a quiet leader. I distinctly remember the revelation while reading Lee and Grant A Dual Biography. The book describes Grant's tendency to quietly sit in the back corner of the room while his generals and officers were presenting their cases for a particular battle plan. He would listen and ultimately decide while quietly writing his orders, barely speaking as he did.

Theodore Roosevelt also recognized the trait in his
speech in Galena, IL in 1900,

He was a plain, quiet man, not seeking for glory; but a man who, when
aroused, was always in deadly earnest, and who never shrank from duty. He was slow to strike, but he never struck softly. He was not in the least of the type which gets up mass-meetings, makes inflammatory speeches or passes inflammatory resolutions, and then permits over-forcible talk to be followed by over-feeble action. His promise squared with his performance. His deeds made good his words.

General Grenville Dodge, a Grant contemporary sited Grant's style and approach in his interviews.

General Grant as a soldier was modest, retiring, unassuming and easy to approach. He seldom, if ever, showed anger. It was his etermination in every battle that won the victory.

The great distinguishing qualities of General Grant were truth, courage, modesty, generosity and loyalty. He was loyal to every cause in which he was engaged - to his friend, his children, his wife and to his country. He absolutely sunk himself to give to other honor and praise to
which he, himself, was most entitled. We shall not see his like

General Grant is this blog's first nomination as a quiet leader.
Thanks for reading

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Good to Great - Celebrating Level 5 (Quiet) Leadership

Quiet leadership is identified and celebrated in the research efforts of Jim Collins and team in Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't. In the book, Jim Collins and research team look to identify the profile and characteristics that allow good companies to become great companies.

There is no surprise in one key finding. Great companies employ great leaders. However, there is surprise in the book's finding when they profile these great leaders. The reseach team's many interviews, extensive research, and analysis identified that the great leaders in these great companies were not brash, heroic figures but more likely quiet leaders. In the book, Collins labels these leaders as Level 5 leaders. The good to great, Level 5 leaders are self-effacing, quiet, reserved, and even shy.

Hooray for the Quiet Leaders. (This of course is as celebratory as we are allowed!)

Although I have spent a career as a quiet leader, the Good to Great story may have been the first time for me that our quiet approach was so clearly validated as a management style that works and excels. It is nice to be recognized.

I would encourage you to view the Jim Collins web site and lecture hall for additional learning on Level 5 leadership.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Release Notes

Welcome friends.

This is the inaugural post for the Lead Quietly blog and I expect that anyone reading this is asking both who and what questions, “Who are you?” and “What is the Lead Quietly blog?

My name is Don Frederiken. I am a quiet leader. But as I quiet leader, you will also know that I consider the “What?” question far more important than the “Who?” question.

What is Lead Quietly Blog?

As I look around me, I see that the most challenging business problems are solved by teams led by one or more quiet, thoughtful leaders. I am not alone in this discovery. There is a growing body of work touting the notion of quiet leaders and heralding their work and achievement.

I am writing this blog to start conversation and sustain study about quiet leadership. I want the conversation to include a community of leaders who share the notion that being a leader is not about heroic speeches, “follow me” pep talks, or fist pumping tirades.

I want to use this blog to share the discoveries, the books, the research, and the stories of quiet leadership. It’s really about learning.

Welcome to the Lead Quietly blog. Thanks for reading.