Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Curiosity as a measure of passion

Learning and curiosity is one of the key elements of quiet leadership as defined on this blog. My personal carnival of learning at Lead Quietly would include these posts:
I was intrigued when Steve Roesler, a fellow Best of 2008 Leadership Blog nominee at his All Things Workplace blog took a different twist, a better perspective on the work of Dr. Carol Dweck that differentiates between a Growth versus Fixed Mindset. I have discussed this concept previously.

In Curiosity, Passion and Leadership, Steve elevates the value of curiosity, by proposing that a curious mind-set that can be used as a yard stick to measure passion. As he writes,
Leaders value people who display a never-ending curiosity for the many facets of the business. Similarly, successful employees of every ilk display a never-ending curiosity that emerges as "passion" in a meeting room filled with people.

What better measure of passion than curiosity?
You can see it's presence or absence in interviews, meetings, telephone conversations, or luncheon chatter. You can display it and you can discern it.
Steve encourages leaders to hire and promote people with passion where you measure passion by sensing their curiosity.

As leaders, we should show our curiosity, it comes across as passion. And when asked, "What's in your mindset?" Show your curiosity and passion.

Thanks Steve for the new insight.

Thanks for reading. Please lead quietly and show your passion, ahhhh, I mean curiosity.

Thanks, there is lots of agreement on Gratitude

I am a fan of thanks and gratitude in the work place. To me the concept is pretty simple. When someone helps you, look them in the eye and say thanks. Then make it a habit. Do it all the time.

The effort can become contagious. A favorite Tom Peters quotation of mine is:
"It" begets "it."

Fact: "Not it" begets "It-less-ness."

Smiling begets a warmer (work, home) environment.

Thanking begets an environment of mutual appreciation.

Two other Best of 2008 Leadership Blogs have also written about gratitude that both inspire and elevate the importance of gratitude.

I previously quoted fellow nominee Carmine Coyote at the Slow Leadership blog, in Build Community - Start simply with smiles and thanks. Carmine proposes that gratitude is a "major constituent in the glue that holds together groups of all sizes."

As she says,
Thanking others and recognizing how much we all depend on support and co-operation makes it far more likely that help will be there when you need it.
Another nominee Steve Farber at Extreme Leadership linked Fascination and Gratitude.
If you're fascinated with [the people around you], you'll discover how to add value to their lives; and if you're genuinely grateful for their patronage, partnership or friendship you'll show them in ways that are sincere and meaningful. Those are the essential elements of a fabulously productive business relationship--or any relationship, for that matter.
Another influence on my thinking about leadership and gratitude has been Rosa Say at Managing with Aloha. She expresses her thoughts on gratitude with Aloha style:
  • Mahalo means thankful living.
  • Say “thank you” often; speak of your appreciation and it will soften the tone of your voice, giving it richness, humility and fullness.

It's a pretty simple concept with lot's of support.

Finally, in a virtual sort of way that can only be done on the blogosphere, I'm looking YOU in the eye and saying, thank you for visiting, reading, and subscribing. I appreciate and am humbled by your participation in my public study of quiet leadership at Lead Quietly.

Thanks again. Please lead quietly.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Troubled by charisma, angst about heroics.

I am troubled by charisma. I have angst about leadership heroics.

I am talking about the expectation that there is a link between leadership and charisma and that heroics are a leadership requirement.

The trouble for me reemerged a few weeks ago when Jim Stroup at Managing Leadership described a television interview where a mandatory link between charisma and leadership was proposed by a university professor of psychology. Jim questioned the link in his post as did I in my comment to the post.

I do not believe that charisma is inextricably linked to leadership. To establish my position, I will cite the research and work of author Jim Collins in his bestseller,Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't. I'd like to believe the the type of Level 5 leadership Collins proposes in Good to Great can and should be the leadership style to which we aspire. He describes the humility of Level 5 leaders who,
Acts with quiet, calm determination;
relies principally on inspired standards,
not inspiring charisma, to motivate.
Certainly, there is another camp to this debate. There are some who believe that charisma and even narcissism are important elements of the leadership mix. Tom Peters has publicly refuted the Jim Collins position (Here is the PowerPoint titled, Tom Peters Squares Off with Jim Collins. Or: The Case for ... Technicolor!). I respect of the work of Tom Peters tremendously and as another Best of 2008 Leadership Blog nominee, you will find nuggets of Tom Peters insight scattered throughout this blog. You can see why I am challenged by charisma.

In the midst of my recent debate, I was reminded of another post in the Lead Quietly archive which is inspired by another Best of 2008 Leadership Blog nominee, Rhett Laubach. In What do you mean by charisma? I also challenged the relationship of leadership and charisma. I wrote,
I find Laubach's insight on care-isma just perfect. He writes,
People naturally like to be around people who are pleasant, joyful and smiling. It is a natural response to a natural trait of influential people who are great at attracting others. Call it charisma if you want. I prefer to call it care-isma. It demonstrates you care about your attitude, you care about the influence you have on others, and you care about others.
This type of charisma, i.e. care-isma resolves the complexity for me. My less than super powers are quite adequate and I am happy to leave charisma to the actors, athletes, evangelists, and politicians. And the best news to me is that I can be myself. No other personas are required.
I recently revisited the Laubach's Personal Leadership Insight blog and picked up another simple nugget that resonates with me, "If you want more influence, have care-isma." Rhett, it's brilliant.

Thanks for reading. Please lead quietly.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Leadership is Everyone's Business

I am a big fan of the work of James Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner and the leadership message they convey in their book The Leadership Challenge. I have cited this work in several posts including:
The nomination of LeaderTalk, the Leadership Challenge blog by Kouzes, Posner, and company in the Best of 2008 Leadership Blogs competition gave me a good excuse to scour their blog for more nuggets for our Lead Quietly readers. I was not disappointed.

There were a number of posts under the category, "Leadership is Everyone's Business." One in particular, Leadership is Everyone's Business..including reporters, written by Beth High, inspired me in a lead quietly way.

I am a fan of the notion that leadership is a choice you make and it is a choice available to anyone. You don't need a title, you don't need charisma, you can choose to be a leader. Leadership is Everyone's Business.

The post quotes from the book, Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation by Parker J. Palmer. There are some fabulous, albeit subtle, leadership concepts and insights in the book. One that Beth quotes is:
…for better or for worse, I lead by word and deed simply because I am here doing what I do. If you are also here, doing what you do, then you also exercise leadership of some sort.”
This message is simple, you can lead by doing what you do. It doesn't take super heroics.

Here is another from the book:
When we live in a close-knit ecosystem called community, everyone follows and everyone leads
As quiet leaders we build community to fully share in the experience of leadership. Let's get everyone involved.

Thanks for reading. Please lead quietly.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Quiet Leaders Needed to Keep Companies Balanced

If you are a Quiet Leader, your organization is counting on you to be "soft part" expert. And unfortunately the soft part is not only the hard part, it is very difficult to keep it in balance. You can't do it by yourself. You need a leader mob.

You are probably saying, huh?

The concept occurred to me after watching a presentation on Ed Oakley's Leadership Made Simple blog. Ed is another finalist in the 2008 Best Leadership Blog competition. He is also the author of the book Leadership Made Simple .

The post that that offered me new insight was Management Skills vs Leadership Skills, or is it AND…? where Ed's video presentation identifies two parts to any organizational process, the hard part and the soft part.

The Hard Part and the Soft Part

The hard part is comprised of the processes, procedures, measurement, metrics and structures. Think of your reporting, forms policies, budgets, and estimates as part of the "hard" part. The hard part is comprised of items that are design to control the efforts of the organization.

The soft part is comprised of the people related components. Think of the ideas, fears, excitement, resistance, attitudes of the people. You might add a dash of politics and fear of change to make it a little more interesting.

In the presentation Ed asks two questions that establishes the essential message of this post:

First Ed asks, "Which is more challenging in your experience?" The answer is immediate. The soft part is clearly more challenging. The hard part represents those somewhat mechanical elements that are generally easy to understand and learn. Most of us would associate the hard part with the tools and approaches used by management to steer the work of your organization.

Most will say that the soft part is clearly more difficult. There is more nuance and variation in dealing with "people" concerns. It's hard. It requires leadership.

Ed's second question is more challenging. "Which is more importance?" Both the hard and soft parts are important and balance is key. As Ed states, "It all about balance." There needs to be a balance between Management and Leadership.

Out of Balance
As I watch managers respond to the management "crisis of the day", I see the soft part, people centered issues suffer. Give a manager unending requests for reports, budget reviews, schedules, justifications, presentations, and project updates, that manager will not have time or energy to lead. The balance between management and leadership is lost.

An "out of balance" situation is serious and not uncommon. I've described this before in What leaders really do? where I quoted the work of Professor John Kotter where he said, "Most U.S. corporations today are overmanaged and underled."

Another leadership giant who has written extensively about "overmanaged and underled" (Google book search) is Warren Bennis. Miki Saxon at Leadership Turn wrote an insightful series of posts that revisits classic Bennis thinking about management versus leadership. The series reminds us that the mission of a leader is very different than the mission of a manager. As leaders we must:
  • Do the right thing
  • Challenge
  • Originate
  • Keep an eye on the horizon
  • Inspire trust
  • More of the Bennis Leader Mission .......Click here for the complete list at Leadership Turn.
How do we keep Soft and Hard in balance?
Quiet leaders need to focus on their leadership mission and leverage their leadership skills to keep our organizations in balance. Individually, we strive to grow and apply our leadership skills. But, a single leader can't do it alone.

Quiet Leader Mobs
A quiet leader mob, a community of leaders, can add mass to the soft/leadership end of our balance challenge. More leaders equals more mass equals balance. My colleague Tom recently stated the challenge eloquently when he described the need for a "groundswell" of leader activists in order to keep balance. Quiet leader mobs can balance overmanagement. We need more leaders, grassroots leaders, we need that groundswell.

Quiet Leader Call to Action
Keep the soft parts and the hard parts in balance by:
  1. Building your personal leadership skills. Its about learning and growing. Be a soft part expert.
  2. Use your leadership skills to build leadership and community around you. We need quiet leader mobs.
Thanks for reading. Please lead quietly.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Lead Quietly, can you state that in 25 words or less?`

The last couple of weeks I have been fascinated with visualization. And in a typical fashion, I was inspired by the convergence of multiple events. Interesting things happen at intersections.

First, I attended a seminar put on by Edward Tufte, an expert in the presentation of informational graphics. I attended his seminar to stimulate my thinking as it applies to my day-job in business intelligence and analytics. His presentation was very thought provoking. You can visit his Ask E.T Forum for samples of his fascinating visualizations.

Second, I discovered Wordle. I'll leave Wordle undefined. Just check out my Wordle product below.

Just yesterday, I was graphically inspired while browsing the Management Craft blog of Lisa Haneberg. Lisa is a fellow nominee for the Best of Leadership Blogs 2008. Her current post contains a visual representation of leadership. Nice. I was inspired.

The convergence of these three events inspired me to ask, Could I express the core message of the Lead Quietly blog in "25 words or less?" I chose Wordle as the medium. I selected 25 words that provide the basis for themes that I have explored in my 75 posts. Here are my Wordle results.

Click the graphic for a larger image. What do you think? Did I capture the essence of Lead Quietly in 25 words or less?

I invite you to explore Wordle. It is a fascinating tool. For example, I "Wordled" my bookmarks to get a picture of who DonFred is? All I can say is that there seems to be something kind of odd going on there!

Thanks for reading. Please lead quietly.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Mindset, it will profoundly affect everything.

How do you learn? You are voracious? Are you constantly learning, and seeking new opportunities to tackle new stuff? Do you find yourself saying, "I wish I had time to learn more?"

If you answer yes, your thinking about learning is aligned with a key quiet leader principle and you likely have a "growth mindset," a personal characteristic that Professor Carol Dweck says will "profoundly affect all aspect of a person's life, from parent and romantic relationship to success at school and on the job"

A Sunday NY Times article this past week (7/6/2008) summarized the work of Carol Dweck and her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. The Time articles was a good reminder of the Dweck concepts we first identified in Fixed or Growth, What's in your Mindset. In her work, Dweck identifies two basic mindset, fixed or growth. You want to have a growth mindset.

Are you curious about your mindset. Dweck provides this diagnostic test.

Read each statement and decide whether you agree or disagree.

  1. Your intelligence is something very basic about you that you can’t change very much.
  2. You can learn new things but you really can’t change how intelligent you are.
  3. No matter how much intelligence you have, your can always change it quite a bit.
  4. You can always substantially change how intelligent you are.
  5. You are a certain kind of person and there is not much that can be done to really change that.
  6. No matter what kind of person you are, you can always change substantially.
  7. You can do things differently, but the important parts of who you are can’t really be changed.
  8. You can always change basic things about the kind of person you are. Which statements do you agree with?

A person with a fixed mindset will agree with statements 1, 2, 5, and 7, while a person with a growth mindset will agree with statements 3, 4, 6, and 8.

If you find yourself in a fixed mindset, you can learn Dweck's four step recommendation for changing your mindset on the web site.

Finally, I believe that the simplest, quiet leader interpretation of Dweck's work for leaders is to coach, mentor, encourage, and create opportunities for learning for yourself and the people around you. As Kevin Eikenberry notes in his book, Remarkable Leadership, "we must focus on continual lifelong learning as the cornerstone skill on the path to remarkable leadership." It's really all about learning.

Thanks for reading. Please lead quietly and learn, learn, learn. Never stop learning.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Humbly standing among the leadership giants

I'm excited to announce Lead Quietly has been named a finalist for the 2008 Best of Leadership Blog competition hosted by Kevin Eikenberry at the Remarkable Learning blog.

The contest runs through the month of July, and I hope you’ll take a look at the nominees and cast your vote.

I am humbled by the attention for Lead Quietly. When I started blogging just over one year ago, I set out to explore two new areas for me. First, I was new to blogging and I wanted to get a feel for the tools, approaches, the social learning and explore the revenue stream of blogging. Secondly, I wanted to study leadership and learn about this "new" style of leadership that seemed to be getting more attention and was certainly more compatible with my own personality and style. From these two notions, Lead Quietly was launched.

It has been a fun journey and today, 74 posts later, I stand in front of you (OK, I'm actually sitting at my keyboard) and proudly and humbly accept the nomination. I'm actually asking for your vote.

So, you're asking, we would I vote for Lead Quietly? I submit this top-ten list.

Reasons to Vote for Lead Quietly in the Best of 2008 Leadership Blogs
  1. In the spirit of the blogosphere, a vote for Lead Quietly is like a vote for all of the other blogs that I have cited in the past year. This is probably about fifty in total including over half of this year's "best" nominees. I could not have succeeded with the knowledge and insight of the army of leadership experts who blog and write.
  2. Lead Quietly is a basement blog. I literally write my posts from the basement of my home. There's no corporate suite, no ivory tower here. It's me, my laptop, and my little basement window. And, of course, quite a bit of help from the blogosphere. From this basement position, a vote for Lead Quietly can take you nowhere but up.
  3. Lead Quietly should be competing in the amateur division. It is purely an amateur effort. I may be the only nominated blogger who is not a published author, consultant, speaker, or trainer. I am a practicing leader with strong emphasis on the word practicing. I humbly stand alongside the pros. I'm asking for a few votes to avoid embarrassment.
  4. Voting for Lead Quietly is like cheering for your favorite small market baseball team without money to pay for free agents. You gotta love a low budget effort and Lead Quietly is truly low-budget using a free host (Blogger), free Blogger template, and open source editor. (ScribeFire). I have to confess to the authors among us that most of the books I cite were checked out from our local public library. My only expense is my domain registration.
  5. Regardless of how you vote, it's a Cinderella Story for me. To be placed in the company of Tom Peters, Jim Kouzes, Barry Posner and the entire nominated list is like qualifying for the US Open as a amateur, playing one good round of golf and finding yourself in a twosome with Tiger Woods. It doesn't get any better then this.
  6. Vote for Change. A vote for any of the nominated blogs is a clear vote with a mandate for leadership change or leadership period. My name is Don Frederiksen and I approve this ad.
  7. No commercial interruptions. Lead Quietly is presented in full without commercial interruption. You will not find advertising or other promotion on the sight. I have to make one disclaimer. My book references are done with text hyperlinks to my Amazon Associate account. Total earnings to date: $1.44. Thank you to the two people who clicked through my book links and bought a book. Five more books and I've paid this year's domain registration.
  8. Support education. I'm a student of leadership. It only took me a few weeks to realize that I was not going to replace my day job with blogging. Since that time, my only real motivation for the blog is learning and growing. I love to learn and a vote for Lead Quietly is a vote for education. OK, I still read and dream by reading Darren Rowse at ProBlogger.
  9. Voting for Lead Quietly is a quiet vote in support of the kind of leader and manager that we all want to work with. This leader is humble, a "we", other-oriented person who loves to learn, has great vision, builds community, and keeps it all in balance. Don't we all desire to work with great leaders?
  10. A vote for Lead Quietly or any of the nominated blogs is a vote for the community of bloggers, whether nominated or not, who keep the space moving and churning (Nobody churns better than Tom Peters). Any vote advances leadership as a course of study within the blogosphere. Thanks Kevin Eichenberry for your sponsorship of this campaign and your Remarkable Leadership.
Please visit all of the blogs to learn and advance leadership.

Thanks for reading. Please lead quietly and vote for your favorite leadership blog.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Quiet Leader Presidents Rank Highly

My leadership study this past week found me pausing on a recent post on Michael McKinney's Leadership Now blog. What Makes a President Great was an terrific post where I encountered new leadership insight through Michael's review of the book The Leaders We Deserved (and a Few We Didn't): Rethinking the Presidential Rating Game.

In the book, author Alvin S. Felzenberg devises new criteria and standards for ranking our former presidents. As Felzenberg described in an interview on National Review Online,
What I attempt to do in my book is to provide six criteria and assign each president a grade in each — just as educators do students on report cards. My categories are: character; vision; competence; management of the economy; handling of national security, defense, and foreign policy; and whether they extended or restricted liberty, especially at home.

As I read the Leadership Now post and reviewed the ranking of Felzenberg's top presidents, I was ecstatic to find three Quiet Leader "Hall of Fame" selections in the top 12 list. The Quiet Leader "Hall of Fame" represents my personal choices of quiet leaders who achieve greatness while exhibiting quiet leader attributes including humility, vision, balance, learning, and quiet purpose. The Quiet Leader "Hall of Fame" includes these top 12 presidents:


President/ Hall of Fame Selection


Abraham Lincoln


Dwight D Eisenhower


Ulysses S. Grant

A fourth president, Harry S. Truman, is ranked number 10 on the list and his nomination to the Quiet Leader Hall of Fame is currently under consideration.

Bottom line: Our quiet leader presidents rank highly and this causes me to reconsider,
In this age, could a Quiet Leader be elected president?

Read the Leadership Now post. It's very insightful in this presidential election time.

Thanks for reading. Please lead quietly and be presidentially humble.