Saturday, February 16, 2008

Quiet Leadership and Service Lessons from "Fred"

I've been a "Fred" all my life. With a last name of Frederiksen, I've had several phases in my life where my nickname was Fred. My father was a Fred. My siblings have all been Freds. Even today, my son is known as Fred to the point where when we call him by his real name (as we do by habit) other parents don't know who we are talking about.

I've been a Fred all my life. However, authors, Mark Sanborn and John Kotter have raised the bar on being "Fred" with new leadership and service lessons.

First, I recommend the book The Fred Factor: How passion in your work and life can turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. The Fred Factor, by Mark Sanborn is based on the service and style of his new letter carrier, Fred. Fred the Postman shows exemplary attitude and achievement in his job. His service is outstanding and remarkable. In the book, Sanborn offers Fred as a model for our actions and suggests that our actions should be based on four principles,
  1. Everyone makes a difference.
  2. Success is built on relationships.
  3. You have to continually create value for others and it doesn't have to cost a penny.
  4. You can reinvent yourself regularly.
The story of Fred is a parable of successful service and leadership. I recommend the book. However, students of leadership can also visit the Fred Factor web site to learn more. You can watch the Fred Factor video clip for summary insight into being "Fred."

Bottom line, we can learn much about service and leadership from Fred.

Another instance of "Fred" comes to us courtesy of Professor John Kotter and Holger Rathgeber in the book Our Iceberg Is Melting: Changing and Succeeding Under Any Conditions. In Kotter's book, Fred is a penguin, a quiet penguin who was unusually curious and observant. In his study he notices that his iceberg is changing and his colony was in peril. Fred had no title. He had no authority. He was quiet Fred. Nevertheless, he felt compelled to take action. He picked another penguin, Alice, who had influence and authority and quietly convinced her of their colony's peril. The team of Alice and Fred convinced the Leadership Council that change had to occur or the colony would perish. In the end, the colony was spared.

Kotter's recipe for change includes an eight step process.
  1. Create a sense of urgency
  2. Pull together the guiding team
  3. Develop the change vision and strategy
  4. Communicate for understanding and buy in.
  5. Empower others to act
  6. Product short-term wins
  7. Don't let up
  8. Create a new culture
Thanks to the quiet leadership of Fred, the colony was spared. The fable of the penguins and their iceberg guides you to acting smarter, producing more, and staying in control through understanding of the events around you.

For students of leadership and change, Kotter's Iceberg Manifesto provides additional insight and tips to lead the change that will be needed to save your colony. For our penguins on the endangered iceberg, this change started with a quiet leader, Fred.

Bottom line, we can learn much about service and leadership from Fred.

Thanks for reading. Please lead quietly. Be a "Fred."


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