Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Art of Woo, a Quiet Leader Requirement

Quiet leaders have to be persuasive. For those of us who are quiet leaders, force is not an option when you need to sell an idea. Most of us don't like to shout. We are not going to get in your face. We have to flat out be persuasive.

If you are a quiet leader, particularly a small l leader (Read an earlier post to understand the difference between Big L and small l leaders), you probably have situations every day where you need to sell an idea, an approach, concept, or plan. Or as quiet leaders try to do, build consensus. How does a quiet leader accomplish this persuasion?

A Knowledge@Wharton newsletter recently caught my attention. The topic the the letter was the "Art of Woo."

The concept of woo can take on several meanings. The common definition has to do with the effort to "sue for the affection of." Let's try to leave this out of the workplace.

Instead, the definition that is the focus of this post and the book, The Art of Woo: Using Strategic Persuasion to Sell Your Ideas relates to the concept of woo as the ability to "win others over" to your ideas without coercion, using relationship-based, emotionally intelligent persuasion.

The research and case study of authors Shell and Mousa, lead to a four-step approach to the Woo process:

  • Polish the idea.
  • Confront the the five barriers that include unreceptive beliefs, conflicting interests, negative relationships, lack of credibility, and failing to adjust communication to the audience.
  • Pitch the idea with your best compelling approach.
  • Secure both organizational and individual commitments.

The authors with there experience in negotiations also cited three typical mistakes that I also found interesting:
  • Focusing on yourself rather than your audience
  • Just winging it thinking that there is no process
  • Forgetting about organizational politics

I have lots of wooing that I need to accomplish in the next few weeks and have a newly discovered process and confidence for the task.

Thanks for reading. Please lead quietly.


Monday, January 21, 2008

The Maturity and Balance of Quiet Leadership

I describe balance as one of the key attributes of quiet leadership. As I wrote in Keep it balanced in 3D,
My vision of balance is multifaceted where balance applies to many elements of life, work and leadership. This includes, for example, the balance of work and personal life, the balance between individual needs and organizational needs, the balance of opinions that needs to occur within teams, the balance required to moderate disagreement.
I feel that maturity is also part of this vision of balance. This notion came clear this past week in reading Do You Recognize the 7 Ingredients of Maturity on the Dumb Little Man blog.

Lifestyle mentor, author and educator, David B. Bohl of Slow Down Fast, identifies the seven ingredients of maturity as:
  • Maturity is the ability to control anger and settle differences without violence or destruction.
  • Maturity is patience.
  • Maturity is the capacity to face unpleasantness and frustration, discomfort and defeat, without complaint or collapse.
  • Maturity is humility.
  • Maturity is the ability to make a decision and follow through.
  • Maturity means dependability and coming through in a crisis.
  • Maturity is the art of living in peace.
The list resonated with me. Although you could probably add and adjust the ingredients as evidenced by some of the blog's comments, my takeaway thought after the reading the post, related to the value that employers and organizations place on maturity. I suspect that maturity is undervalued and under appreciated

Maturity as a personal attribute seems difficult to sell. Picture a hiring process where there are two candidates where the only difference between the two is that one candidate exudes energy and charisma and the other maturity and balance. Who gets hired?

Let me know that you think? How can we quiet leaders sell our balance and maturity?

Thanks for reading. Please lead quietly.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Great Insights on Building Trust and Community

In December I wrote Building Community - Trust Begets Trust where I discussed the research of Kouzes and Posner in The Leadership Challenge that promotes the role of trust as a foundation for leadership and collaboration. The key phrase was a catch phrase, "Trust Begets Trust. Trust is a two-way street where you need to trust others just as much as you need others to trust you. Trust works both ways. Trust is needed to build community.

I was delighted when the post was included in the January Carnival of Trust. The Carnival of Trust is a monthly blog carnival which focuses on the role of trust in business and other relationships. The compilation is sponsored by Trusted Advisor Associates and the January carnival is hosted by Ford Harding of Harding and Company.

The Carnival of Trust offers lots of insight into trust as a key leadership components. Here are some of my favorites from the carnival.
For quiet leaders who strive to build community, trust is a key requirement. Read and enjoy the Carnival.

Thanks for reading. Please lead quietly.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Tribute to a Quiet Leader - My Dad

This past week, my father died. He was 101 years old and whoever knew Dad would say, "He lived a long and wonderful life."

My Dad was very simply a good man. He lived a wonderful life as a husband, father, community leader, farmer, relative, and friend. Always kind and thoughtful, people just appreciated his company.

His favorite pastime was cards. You name a card game and he could play it. When the Frederiksen family got together, a favorite card game was "Oh Hell." Now we know that Dad's gone to heaven to play "Oh Hell."

Dad was always accepting of the whatever life brought him. Even the mistakes made by his family didn't matter. He accepted it. After describing an event with a bad outcome, his likely response; "Well at least nobody got hurt." With those words, it was hard to be glum.

Dad was very intelligent, very practical, with great common sense. He was very aware of the world around him. He was an avid reader of news. He used to brag that he was smart because he graduated in the top ten of his high school class. Yea, and he'd always confess that his graduating class only had ten students.

Dad outlived two generations of friends. He had no peers. When asked what was the secret to his long life, "No peer pressure."

Dad was a hard working farmer for all of his adult life. He did very well for his family. And he taught us kids the value of hard work. I can still remember him saying, "When there is work to be done, you have to do the work." He occasionally pointed out the work of farmers that weren't hard workers. It clearly showed.

As a family we went to church most Sundays. He taught us to treat people well. There was no prejudice in our rural Minnesota home. As for church, I never heard him sing, I never even saw his lips moving during the hymns.

Dad gave me lots of freedom and encouragement to try new things. There was always lots to learn on the farm and he always encouraged me to take on a new task. Whether mechanics, carpentry, livestock care, electricity, farm business, or the obvious field work, he imposed few limits. Made me a well rounded person. What a great teacher!

At the end of his life Dad was legally blind. He suffered from macular degeneration. During the last six years of his life, he couldn't read. television was a blur, couldn't even visually recognize the people he met. But boy did he adapt. Many people didn't even know he was blind until he'd ask the people he met, "Who are you? I don't see very well." Macular degeneration is a life changing disease, especially for the readers and learners among us. For his memorials, we encourage people to contribute to the Macular Degeneration Research fund at the University of Minnesota Medical Foundation. We need to find a cure.

Dad lived a long and wonderful life. His passing is sad. Did I remember to tell you about his long and wonderful life?

Thanks for reading.

Please lead quietly.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

In this age, could a Quiet Leader be elected president?

I admit, I am pretty fascinated by the politics of the presidential election. However, I also know that I will likely tire of the intensity. Only 300 days until the election.

The intensity of the campaign has even overflowed into the world of leadership blogging. This overflow was noted this past week in two ways:

  1. I received an email from a person representing the authors of a book that I reviewed on the Lead Quietly blog last year. The purpose of the email was to suggest that if I agreed with the leadership concepts of the book then I would find that will be the change leader required by our nation in the coming years.
  2. I use Google blog search gadgets that allow me to track what leadership bloggers are saying about the key quiet leadership elements of vision, balance, learning, and community . However, in the past weeks, political analysis and opinion are increasingly present in these gadget presentations on my iGoogle homepage.

The question that this "intrusion" left me to ponder was, "Could a Quiet Leader be elected president?"

Seems highly unlikely.

  • Influence today seems to depend on very public events, speeches, sound bites and rallies. (I still chuckle when I think about Huck and Chuck rallies in Iowa.)
  • We assume that learning on the part of candidates has already occurred. We don't accept "I don't know" or "Let me ponder that" answers for questions on national policy. And heaven help the candidate that makes a public blunder or mistake in an answer to a question.
  • Nominations are no longer made in quieter back room negotiations. Dwight Eisenhower, our last quiet leader president to win an election, was largely drafted and didn't even announce his candidacy until after he won the New Hampshire primary.
I don't think it's possible for us to ever elect a Quiet Leader. What do you think?

Thanks for reading. Please lead quietly.