Sunday, December 20, 2009

Military commander calls for quiet leadership

I was intrigued yesterday by recent comments by Admiral Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on his recent trip to Afghanistan.

Each soldier is going to have use leadership in the fight, the chairman said. They are going to have to learn all they can and make important decisions.

“I want to encourage you to do that: to lead quietly, to lead [while] listening, to lead [by] understanding what the challenges are for these people,” Mullen said. “Because in the end, they want to raise their kids to a higher standard of living, [and] they’d like to do it in peace and security, just like you and I.”

On the surfact, his call for leadership does not seem very military-like but seems appropriate for the times and mission.

First he is asking for every solder to lead. This is a great example of "anyone can lead" when you consider the strict chain of command that the military makes famous. You don't need a title to lead, you don't have to be an officer.

Secondly, I appreciate his call for quiet leadership and interpret this as a call for a calmer more sane approach to the Afghan situation. He describes the importance of listening and understanding. It is very different from the command and control approach that many leaders define as leadership.

The quote gives me a new perspective on the renewed mission in Afghanistan.

This information came to me via a Google Alert that I have set up that alerts me when the phrase "lead quietly" is used on the web or news. I was pretty surprised to see the military reference.

Thanks for reading. Please lead quietly even if you are in the military.


Posted via web from Intersectable

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Best Leaders are......

Introverts. They draw on important strengths that extroverts may not have.

The intersection of leadership and introversion doesn't get much attention. The reality of our world is that many people just expect leaders to be charismatic heroes, General Patton-types who rally the troops and lead the charge. But as you have read in this blog numerous times, "You don't have to be a hero to lead! Leadership is a choice"

Executive coach Jennifer B Kahnweiler indentifies the important leadership strengths that introverts have in a recent article on As an introvert, I totally concur with these strengths and propose that the world might be a better place if we seized more leadership opportunities.

Here are the key characteristics that Kahnweiler identifies that may make an introvert a better leader:

  1. They think first, talk later.
  2. They focus on depth.
  3. They exude calm.
  4. They let their fingers do the talking.
  5. They embrace solitude.

Please read the article. In the end it reminded me of one of my favorite introvert quotes that comes from Jonathan Rauch, writing in The Atlantic,

If we introverts ran the world, it would no doubt be a calmer, saner, more peaceful sort of place.

Kahnweiler's article is also suggesting that quiet leadership could be better, more leaderful. You don't have to be a charismatic hero to lead.

Thanks for reading. Introverts can make the best leaders.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Four Simple "Shared" Ideas for Building Community

I'm into simple and concise ideas about leadership.

This even applies to more complex leadership challenges like community building where I have written previously on simple concepts for community building. For example:

Building Community - Trust Begets Trust
Cites the work of Kouzes and Posner in The Leadership Challenge where the authors identify trust as a foundation for community and teamwork.

Building Community: Thank you as a way of leading
Proposes gratitude as an easy and remarkably powerful step in building the type of community that is essential for successful teams.

Building Community with Giving
Suggests that giving and service are key ingredients to building community across teams.

Becky Robinson at the Mountain State University LeaderTalk recently posted four simple ideas for community building. Her ideas were both "simple" and accessible.

Here are her four points along with my comments and links to my previous posts:

Shared relationships. People feel part of a community when they are well connected in relationships... leaders facilitate this interconnectedness. The more people are interconnected, the more likely they are to have a sense of community.

Get to know the people around you. To me, it starts with knowing about their families and names of spouses and children; it allows you to connect quickly.

Sustain the interconnectedness with smiles and gratitude.

Shared experiences. When people participate in activities together, collaborating as a whole or working in small groups, relationships have a chance to grow. Even after the activity is over, shared memories with others can contribute to a sense of community.

Draw people into your plans and tasks. Collaboration doesn't have to be hard. But is starts best with questions and listening; not telling. Also, let's dispel the myths that collaboration takes longer or suggests that a leader is soft or weak.

Shared goals and purpose. As people rally around a shared cause or goal, a sense of community builds. People feel emboldened by others who are working toward the same purpose.

I have previously cited the work of Kouzes and Posner who describe the importance of a shared vision across a team or organization. They suggest in their work, "Remember that leadership is a dialogue, not a monologue.... it's about developing a shared sense of destiny. "

Shared achievement. People enjoy being a part of something bigger than themselves, knowing that their contribution makes a difference. Leaders who recognize a groups' effort build community.

I feel that celebration should be an important element of the gratitude shown by an organization. As I have written before Gratitude is Transformational.

Becky's community building list is a perfect way to remind leaders that building community doesn't have to be hard.

Thanks for David Zinger for his Tweet that shared this nice list.

Thanks for reading. Please lead quietly. Don

Posted via web from Intersectable

Friday, November 27, 2009

Are You an In or an Out Leader? - Gill Corkindale -

How much time and energy are you spending in (or with) your team and how much time out in the wider organisation? It might seem like a simple question, but executives rarely take the time to think about it. It's important to do though, because this single question could answer many other questions that you — or your boss — have about your style and effectiveness.

Executives usually have a preference for one arena, which can be reinforced by their role, their personality, or even the corporate culture. A quality control manager, for example, would naturally be more inwardly focused while a communications director would roam across the business. Both roles would attract different personalities. Similarly, some organisations are structured as, or have developed into, silos due to the nature of their business or markets. Examples might include law firms, where separate practices evolve to serve clients in specific areas.

My suggestion is that executives need to balance the time they spend in both the In and Out arenas if they are to be effective.

I liked Gill's label of In and Out Leadership. In my comment on the post I wrote:

I appreciate the thoughtful post and the distinction between In and Out Leadership and the need for balance.

I have this notion that the line that you draw between In and Out could also be positioned differently along different definitions. I think of one alternative as a line drawn between "we" and "me" leadership. You might identify leaders who fail to focus on the "we/inner" needs of the team by focusing on their own advancement or ego/"out" leadership needs. In this case balance is also required.

Regardless of where you draw the line, I like the distinction between In and Out Leadership.

The key seems to be balance.

Thanks for reading. Please lead quietly and stay balanced.

Posted via web from Intersectable

Friday, November 20, 2009

Scary Bloggers - I'm guilty?

There’s been a lot of fear about blogs this past decade. Even the word “blog” is scary, like some gelatinous swamp thing oozing over our precious discourse, upending the neat order of things and leaving behind a trail of slime. These monsters were multiplying by the thousands, threatening to consume national media, bring Congress to its knees and subvert the interests of decent, regular people.

Bloggers are scary. I can't help but laugh.

After writing Lead Quietly for over two years and learning so much and really appreciating the opportunity to connect with others on the blogosphere, the only scary part for me is that I continue to discover there is too much to learn and explore. I'm afraid that I won't live long enough to get to it all.

I hope that I haven't scared you with subversive information.

Check out the Newsweek series. Another favorite part, the celebrity mug shots.

Thanks for reading. Please lead quietly.

Posted via web from Intersectable

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Great leaders don’t actually lead at all

When I watch ‘leaders’, here’s what I notice. Some people lead quietly, some lead loudly, some lead with ideas, some lead with deeds, some lead with unbending integrity, some lead with inspiring words and others lead, surprisingly effectively, with ego and selfishness.

Who the hell knows? There is likely no answer, except maybe that provided by the Greek philosopher (apparently it’s unclear) who summed it up: Know Thyself.

I pulled two sentiments from this post. First, great leaders get out of the way and let their people charge ahead.

Secondly, there are many different styles of leadership. I like the quiet types because it allows me to be authentic, effective and personal.

The "Know Thyself" quote is good advice.

Thanks for reading. Please lead quietly.

Posted via web from Intersectable

Thursday, November 12, 2009

ChangeThis: The Upstarts Are Here! - Surprising demand for leadership and community building skills.

Technology is GenY’s humble servant and they use it to connect and collaborate with their peers, co-workers, employees, business partners, customers and, yes, complete strangers. So it’s not the technology that’s important, it’s the relationship and community building that’s facilitated by technology that matters.

One of the surprises in reading Donna Fenn's Change This Manifesto about young entrepreneurs is that their success is dependent on their ability to build relationships and community between partners, vendors, and customers. Here are some examples:

  1. Fenner found that Upstarts have a strong tendency to start businesses with partners. They look to use a team to expand their skills and reach.
  2. In this economy—in any economy, really—you don’t just need customers, you need evangelists. Do this by building communities of customers.
  3. Build dedicated tribes of employees. "Upstart CEOs tend to build company cultures that reflect their own workplace needs. So traditional hierarchies are rare, frequent feedback and short-term rewards are popular, and training is viewed not as a luxury but as a necessary recruitment and retention tool."

My primary takeaway from the manifesto is that, although technology is important, the community and leadership skills that I describe here on Lead Quietly, are still an important tool in the entrepreneurs toolbox. It is much more than technology.

Thanks for reading. Please lead quietly.


Posted via web from Intersectable

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Achieving Business Excellence - Words of Wisdom from John Spence

Words of Wisdom

Keys to Success in Business and Life

  • Attitude is everything. Be positive, optimistic, engaging, spirited and happy. People like to be around happy people.
  • Build your house on a solid rock of education. Be a dedicated lifelong learner. Be curious. Ask lots of questions. Be an absolutely superb listener.
  • Take a risk, try something new. Life is a bold adventure or nothing at all.
  • Your integrity and your reputation are all you have, guard them carefully.
  • Surround yourself with smart, values-driven and caring friends, and then don’t be afraid to ask for, and give them, lots of help.
  • To be truly successful in life, find something you are passionate about and follow it with gusto.
  • Take good care of yourself. Health, vibrancy and vitality are essential for a long, happy and successful life.
  • There is more opportunity than you could possibly imagine, but you have to go look for it.
  • Lasting success does not come from chance, fate or good luck. Be well prepared, have a plan, set clear goals and remain focused on them regardless of circumstances or difficulties.
  • No success is ever achieved without diligence, hard work and unrelenting persistence in the face of inevitable challenges and failures.
  • Be kind and fair. Stay humble. Treat everyone with respect. Give back, help others, help your community.

Just doing my normal morning reading (Google Reader and TwitterGadget) and I came across this work by author John Spence.

I was inspired by both the simple list and the video. My favorite from the list:
"Be kind and fair. Stay humble. Treat everyone with respect. Give back, help others, help your community."

All nicely stated.

Thanks for reading. Please lead quietly.

Posted via web from Intersectable

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Reinventing Leadership In The Age of Collaboration - FP Posted

In his book, Leadershift, author Emmanual Gobillot, a consultant and speaker with a wide audience in Europe, describes how to adapt traditional leadership roles and a develop a new business model for success. Leadershift explores the world of mass collaboration--that is, the collective actions of large numbers of people working independently of organizations and institutions. Gobillot argues that social, collaborative and virtual networking have far deeper implications than just changing the way we work or do business. Mass participation makes business a social enterprise, and therefore changing the nature of roles within.

Gobillot argues that leadership during a mass participation era is linked to narrative (story telling) and contribution more than it is to power and prescribed roles. The real challenge with collaboration is that it needs to be implemented with tools that do not currently facilitate it. Engaging in conversations with people that help paint desired pictures of the future, or apply our knowledge of human behavior from brain science research is at odds with the kinds of structures and processes that currently exist in organizations.

There are four trends that all suggest that individual experience, skill, effort and power are diminishing in importance in favor of collective experience, skill, and networks.

In this post I also appreciated the definitions of Leader and Ruler supplied by commenter rossbcan:

Leader: One we voluntarily follow because they expose a vision and a place / role for us that is in our self-interest

Ruler: Those we FEAR to cross.

Interesting concepts in new leadership.

Thanks for reading. Please lead quietly.


Posted via web from Intersectable

Friday, November 6, 2009

7 Visualization Groups On Flickr to Find Inspiration | FlowingData

It's a great place to find inspiration for infographics and visualizations or to just browse the giganto collection of work from others.

It is fascinating to see how people visualize a concepts that are beyond numbers, charts, and graphs.

Posted via web from Intersectable

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Just Ask Leadership - Do you look good from below?

This week I have been devouring the book, Just Ask Leadership: Why Great Managers Always Ask the Right Questions by Gary B Cohen.

Expect that you will be find me sharing a number of nuggets from this good book. Like what often happens, I end up defacing the book with my notes and circles. I'll share some of these nuggets.

You've likely seen the Truman quote above from other sources, "It is amazing what you can accomplish......." The point, however, that I circled was actually the Captain Symonds quote where he proposes, " A lot of folks.....make it too far in this business because they look a lot better from above than they do from below."

This quote reminded of a the Leadership Acid Test that wrote in 2007 when I proposed a good test of leadership:

Pick a Leader with a title. If that Leader no longer had a title, would you still follow him/her. Would the leader still have influence?

It is another way of suggesting that leaders need to look good from below. Without a title, would you still look good from below; would you still be leading?

And maybe, looking good from below will ultimately cause them to look even better from above.

There are more nuggets worthy of sharing. Expect more as I continue to deface this book.

Thanks for reading. Please lead quietly and watch your looks.


Posted via web from Intersectable

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Collaboration Imperative - Vineet Nayar - Harvard Business Review

This is the Version 2.0 era. We have seen the rise of Web 2.0 technologies; companies are using Enterprise 2.0 tools; and in the aftermath of the recent financial crisis, the world's leaders are trying to create Capitalism 2.0. As companies wade through these challenging times, I see a distinct shift towards another new paradigm: Collaboration 2.0.

There's growing recognition everywhere of the need for corporations to collaborate with government, with customers, with NGOs, with stakeholders--and even with competition. In order to survive, business requires the cover of a collaborative ecosystem that will probably render obsolete traditional views of competition.

Smart companies have realized the need to reinvent and align employees' roles with organizational goals in a democratic way,

I appreciate the imperative that drives an organization to collaborate with employees, partners, and stakeholders. The classic model where managers dictate seems unsustainable in today's environment.

This article reminded me of a quote from Peter Drucker:

“The leader of the past was a person who knew how to tell.
The leader of the future will be a person who knows how to ask.”

For me the article compels me as a non-manager leader to continue to ask for an opportunity to collaborate and have impact.

Thanks for reading.
Please lead quietly,

Posted via web from Intersectable

Monday, September 7, 2009

Shopping for School Supplies: Are Calculators getting heavier?

I was surprised with the message from today's Office Depot shopping experience.  Are these calculators too heavy to pick up?

Have a good Labor Day.

Posted via email from Intersectable

What 21st Century Educators (Leaders) Need To Learn To Survive

Eight Habits of Highly Effective 21st Century Teachers

Teaching_skills_21st_ century_educator_know_survive_by_andrewchurches.jpg

I was struck when reading an article about the skills that modern teacher need in survive and thrive in a changing learning environment that these same skills are the skills that modern leaders will need.

In my LeadQuietly thinking, the match is nearly perfect and author Andrew Churches could literally search and replace teacher with leader and submit the article to almost any modern leadership blog.

My key takeaway on the education side is that we expect our teachers to lead and innovate with the pay and status of an assembly line worker. Makes me go hmmmm.

Posted via web from Intersectable

A Road Map to Success | FlowingData

This map originated in 1913. The roadblocks to success seem not to have changed.

Posted via web from Intersectable

Monday, August 31, 2009

Saying Goodbye to a Favorite Blog - Slow Leadership

I am sad to say goodbye to one of my longtime favorite blogs.  Carmine Coyote of the Slow Leadership blog is retiring and signs off with a GOODBYE post. 

Slow Leadership was one of only a handful of leadership blogs that really reflected the same leadership concepts that I tried to convey in my Lead Quietly blog.

I cited Slow Leadership several times within my posts.  Here is my farewell tribute to Slow Leadership with some of my highlights:

From - The Egotistical (non-quiet) Leader

I read a very insightful article on Slow Leadership where the focus was on the egoistical leader and the impact of their posture,

Do we want to live in a world where politeness, gratitude, understanding, honesty, ethical dealing, and patience have become extinct? Where everyone is locked into their own bubble of petty concerns and nobody cares about anything else? Where rising to the top in career and financial terms means opting out of involvement in “unproductive” activities like friendship, helping others, and just taking time to appreciate the beauty and wonder of the world itself?
The basis for quiet leadership must remain altruistic. We must remain true to our beliefs and lose an occasional argument in order to win the debate. Stay the quiet course. And when we succeed, as the Slow Leadership article cited, "our joys and triumphs are greater when shared."

I appreciate the insight offered by Slow Leadership. I remain optimistic that an egotism epidemic can be suppressed with Slow and Quiet Leadership.

From - Build Community - Start simply with smiles and thanks

In a recent post at Slow Leadership, Carmine Coyote wrote about The Power of Gratitude. The post suggest that gratitude is a "major constituent in the glue that holds together groups of all sizes, from a few friends to society as a whole."
This definition places gratitude, which generally starts out with a simple thank you, in a very exalted role. You might debate as to whether gratitude is more or less important than honesty, trust, or service in building community. However, we can immediately agree there is nothing easier than a simple "thank you."

Carmine - THANK YOU for sharing your insight.  You will be missed.

Thanks for reading.  Please lead quietly and SLOWLY.


Posted via email from Intersectable

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Making Big with Small

Four Lessons in The Art of the Small
So our little metaphor — of drops of water falling on an ocean, or on a rock — contains in it four lessons that we’ll call The Art of the Small (only slightly related to the Jedi Force technique):

1. One person can make an impact. Don’t feel that it’s hopeless. You don’t need to be someone famous or powerful to have an impact. You can make a difference, you can change things — if you focus on The Art of the Small.

2. Concentrate your efforts on smaller and smaller areas. When your efforts are diffused over a wide area, they won’t have much of an impact. So focus on smaller areas, and your efforts will be felt more fully. It could take time for change to happen, but keep that focus narrow.

3. Try to find an area that will cause a tipping point. You’ll have the biggest impact if you can change something that will in itself cause further changes — the rock that causes the avalanche. This isn’t an easy thing, to find that pressure point, that spot that will cause everything else to change. It takes practice and experience and luck and persistence, but it can be found.

4. Don’t try to beat an ocean. You’ll lose. Instead, focus on small changes that will spread.

I was inspired by The Art of the Small: How to Make an Impact. Most challenging of the four lessons is "Try to find a tipping point." This is one of the reasons why I like to explore at the intersections of ideas. Perhaps I'll be lucky to find an intersection that will provide an easy tipping point.

It seems pretty intersectable.

Posted via web from Intersectable

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Edge: BETTER THAN FREE By Kevin Kelly

When copies are free, you need to sell things which can not be copied.

Well, what can't be copied?

There are a number of qualities that can't be copied. Consider "trust." Trust cannot be copied. You can't purchase it. Trust must be earned, over time. It cannot be downloaded. Or faked. Or counterfeited (at least for long). If everything else is equal, you'll always prefer to deal with someone you can trust. So trust is an intangible that has increasing value in a copy saturated world.

There are a number of other qualities similar to trust that are difficult to copy, and thus become valuable in this network economy. I think the best way to examine them is not from the eye of the producer, manufacturer, or creator, but from the eye of the user. We can start with a simple user question: why would we ever pay for anything that we could get for free? When anyone buys a version of something they could get for free, what are they purchasing?

Kelly goes on to describe eight qualities that are better then free as the basis for future revenue models. With the internet as the ultimate copy machine, the following generatives will continue to add value to this super distribution network:

  • Immediacy
  • Personalization
  • Interpretation
  • Authenticity
  • Accessibility
  • Embodiment
  • Patronage
  • Findability

He goes on to propose that money doesn't follow the copies, it follows the path of attention, a Twitterfied notion.

The writing provides some interesting ideas at the intersection of free.

Posted via web from Intersectable

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Social Data Revolution(s) - Now, New, Next -

In 2009, more data will be generated by individuals than in the entire history of mankind through 2008.

Clearly, this data revolution will bring lots of opportunity for anyone who can make sense of the data.

Posted via web from It's Intersectable

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Count your Money to Feel Happy. Count your Money to Reduce Pain

A report cited by Science Daily and published in Psychological Science proposes that counting money may make you happy and reduce your level of pain. 

In one of the experiments, participants were asked to immerse their fingers in hot water for 30 seconds after counting either paper or money.  Those that counted money rated the pain with less intensity.

In another experiment, participants who counted money rather than paper, had lower social distress when playing a computerized game.

Most have us have been taught that "money can buy happiness."  But this study suggests that there is some debate at the intersection of money and happiness.  What's your thought?

It's intersectable.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Exercise and the Brain - Not an obvious intersection

I was reminded this morning with a video n Why the Brain Craves Sleep and Exercise on the BrainRules blog of the not so obvious intersection between exercise and cognition.  I'm a fan of Brain Rules by John Medina and the post's video interview is a good reminder that I have not been diligent in the physical exercise that he nicely ties to a healthy brain.  The connection to sleep is more obvious. 

Exercise and Learning.  It's Intersectable

tags: Exercise, Learning

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Inaugural Post on Posterous - Looking for Intersections

I am writing an email that will turn into my inaugural post on Posterous which can also be found at

It occurs to me that my motivation for an online presence is pretty simple.  Unlike many authors, consultants, and product marketers who are looking to sell and promote, I use my online presence to primarily discover, learn, and connect. is primarily about connecting. I'm fascinated by intersections where things connect.  In fact, one of the phrases that I occasionally use is,

Interesting things happen at intersections.

What kind of intersections?

Any kind of intersection.   I like to explore any crossroad where you find an intersection of different roads traveled, new  ideas, information, learning, trends, people, politics, presentation, or data.

When approaching an intersection you can encounter "interesting" events:

  • First there is a danger of a collision when approaching an intersection.  Some intersections are simply "dangerous".
  • Second, every intersection offers the possibility of a change in direction, a chance to take a new path.
  • Third there is an opportunity for a new convergence or a  meeting of people, ideas, and information.  Innovation could result.

I am starting this blog in the pursuit and discovery of interesting intersections.  I'll be looking for intersectables and interesting crossroads.  Please stay tuned.

It's Intersectable.


Posted via email from It's Intersectable

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Are you a Super Learner? Do a self assessment.

Are you a super learner?

My recent exploration at the intersection of learning and leadership exposed me to the concept of a super learner. It's a role to which I aspire. I certainly have my share of weaknesses and my opportunity for learning is endless but I wanted a simple list of characteristics that could help me assess my progress.

Here are the characteristics that I would use to describe a super learner:
  • You live in wonder and have a insatiable curiosity and will to learn.
  • You are humble and clearly recognize your knowledge gaps and weaknesses.
  • You are a skilled critical thinker and good at synthetic thinking. You look to connect the dots at the intersection of ideas.
  • You are patient. Super learners understand that there are no shortcuts or quick fixes.
  • You accept mistakes as simply a part of learning.
  • You are self-reliant, self driven and self-motivated. You believe that learning is worth doing for its own sake.
  • You are media savvy. Super learners live in a state of constant exposure to social media and the associated knowledge. You are well aware of the power of social technology to connect people to people.
  • You are social and group-oriented. You are able to build networks for collaborating. You are quick to share knowledge.

How did you do?

My eight characteristics were summarized from these resources:
Mission to Learn blog: 5 Traits of the Super Learner
Harvard Magazine Article (pdf): Secrets of the Super Learners
Accenture Video: Super Learners

Thanks for reading. Please lead quietly.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Learning: Make it Informal

I have a question for leaders who recognize that learning is a critical element of a team's success. "What can leaders do to cultivate learning across their teams?"

It is a broad question with a complex answer. As I wrote in a previous post, the space is vast and multi-dimensional. This is illustrated in my exploratory mindmap.

I can't pretend that I understand the entirety of this space. However, I discovered a single learning concept that resonated with me. Relative to my question, I found Informal Learning a compelling, thought-provoking and amazingly accessible concept. Simply stated, leaders should build and cultivate informal learning on their teams.

What is Informal Learning?
As Jay Cross writes on his Informal Learning blog, "People acquire the skills they use at work informally — talking, observing others, trial-and-error, and simply working with people in the know."

Informal learning can characterized as learning that:
  • Takes place outside educational establishments.
  • Does not follow a specified curriculum.
  • Will likely be sporadic, incidental, and problem-related.
  • Experienced directly as a function of everyday life.
Cross goes on to say that "informal learning is the unofficial, unscheduled, impromptu way most people learn to do their jobs." If you'd like to hear Jay describe informal learning, here is a video he supplied in 2007.

Informal learning is the Rodney Dangerfield of learning. It just doesn't get respect. In fact, Allen Tough in his paper, The Iceberg of Informal Adult Learning suggests that about 80% of learning is informal and quite invisible like the iceberg. However, the other 20%, this is learning that is formal, and institutionally organized, get the lion's share of the attention and the largest share of most organization's training budget.

Some even go so far as to suggest that organizations are spending 80% of their training budget to accomplish a mere 20% of their learning. There is clearly some debate about the validity of this comparison. Despite this, in my experience, organizations don't give much attention to the power and potential of informal learning.

The question for leaders is, "How can you support the growth of informal learning in your team?

In a Lead Quietly manner, I decided to look for common threads and identify a handful of principles where leaders could focus their attention in their effort to build informal learning.

Here are the Lead Quietly Principles of Building Informal Learning:

It's Personal

We've always known that different people have different learning styles. My approach to learning; as much as I attempt to build this skill, is not necessarily the optimal approach for anyone else on my team. First and foremost, a leader trying to expand team learning should recognize that any program or learning initiative should account for differences in learning style.

Secondly, leaders should look to understand how their colleagues learn. Although numerous learning style theories exist, I'd encourage leaders to pick a single framework like Fleming's VARK model which divides leaders into four groups:
  1. visual learners
  2. auditory learners
  3. reading/writing-preference learners
  4. kinesthetic learners or tactile learners

Recently, I've started asking applicants during hiring interviews, "How did you learn what you know?" The varied responses led me to believe that you can simply ask and observe in order to build understanding.

With information about personal learning styles, you are in a better position to build informal learning opportunities across your team.

It's Social, It's Networked, It's Collaborative, It's about Community
A paradox of the study of informal learning is that despite the fact that learning style is personal, informal learning is more likely to flourish in an environment based on strong community. Teams easily form communities of practice where they share a passion for a topic or solution. Teams will build community to help each other, share, and learn from each other.

The Lead Quietly blog has focused extensively on approaches to building community and collaboration across teams. And the not-so-surprising finding about community is that the identical community-building approaches apply to both collaboration and learning. Teams that excel at learning, collaboration, and community are teams with a foundation on personal relationships, gratitude, trust, passion, and sharing. The recommendation for leaders, build a strong community for active learning.

It's about Sharing and Conversation
Jay Cross says in his video, "The most powerful instructional technology ever invented is human conversation." In his book, Informal Learning: Rediscovering the Natural Pathways That Inspire Innovation and Performance (Essential Knowledge Resource), he defines conversation as the "stem cells for learning." Through conversation, learning is created and shared in a single process.

As a leader, you simply want to encourage sharing and conversation. As Catherine Lombardozzi writes in Breathing Life into an Informal Learning Strategy,

Sharing expertise and collaborating with others needs to be encouraged, recognized, and rewarded. Reaching out to others for support of learning needs to be viewed as a savvy strategy for getting up to speed and getting ahead. There has to be some room for informal conversation and sharing experiences. In an economic environment where time is increasingly scarce, interpersonal interactions my be undervalued and underutilized, and that will have serious consequences on learning in our organizations.
Leaders should not only participate in the conversation but should mentor, model, and coach with those conversations. I now recognize that when I sit with a co-worker and spend time discussing and exploring, I am creating an informal learning opportunity for both of us. I need to do more of this.

Support Informal Learning with Tools
and a PLE
Almost any discussion of modern trends in learning, be it defined as informal learning, social learning, network learning, or e-learning will end up talking about the tools. As a leader, we should encourage the use of tools that support the discovery, sharing and conversation about learning.

When I propose this, I am not suggesting that your team needs to purchase a sophisticated learning management system. I'm really saying, use the common and readily available tools that are already at your disposal. Jane Hart on her Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies site surveys both learners and learning professionals to identify "Top Tools". Hart's top ten list for learning tools includes common and popular tools like:
  • Google Search
  • YouTube
  • FireFox
  • Twitter
  • Wikepedia
  • Delicious
  • Facebook
  • Google Reader
  • Gmail

The list is likely familiar. As you use these tools they collectively evolve into a Personal Learning Environment (PLE), a set of tools that you can use to support and manage your learning. Your encouragement and modeling will grow the tool and PLE concept across your team. My PLE is based on tools like FireFox, Google Reader, YouTube, ScribeFire, Twitter, BigTweet, and iGoogle.

Final Thoughts
Informal learning doesn't require big investments, a budget, or even a formal plan. With awareness, modeling, strong community, and support of a team's leader, informal learning can become viral. It's all about learning. A team of learners can tackle any challenge.

Thanks for reading. Learning? Make it informal.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Leadership Mission: Leading to Learning

How does a leader lead a team to learning?

It's a question that I have been pondering and researching for the last week. As leaders, we recognize that learning is critical. I personally love to learn in a variety of areas. There is so much to learn in tools, technology, information, data, personal development, and of course, the basis for this blog, leadership.

However, I frequently see instances where that love of learning isn't shared. Although I can't believe that anyone would hate to learn, you still see people around you who resort to old thinking, old and out-of-date approaches. Or you find people who feel that seem to feel above learning as they know what they need to know. These are people who decline an opportunity to try something new, to experiment, to test.

The question of my current learning mission is, "How can you lead a team to learning?" It's a mission that I set our in my previous post, Big on Learning, Myopic on Learning.

My first discovery in this space is, "This is huge." Theories abound. Tools are plenty. Opinions are prominent.

Along the way, I was inspired by some of the work of Robin Good, in particular a mind map that he shared on MindMeister, Best Online Collaboration Tools 2009. With leading team learning as a big topic, it struck me that a MindMeister map might be the perfect organizer. Here is an embedded snapshot:

In the map, I broke the topic in four primary elements, the concepts, the resources, organizations, and tools. Over the coming weeks, I will share my evolving thoughts about leading team learning.

In the mean time, I invite you to browse the map, click through to my links and resources, and please comment or even add to my map. I value your insight.

Thanks for reading. Please lead quietly and remember, it's all about learning.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Big on Learning, Myopic on Learning

Learning and leadership are irrefutably linked. The link is so important that learning took the first position in the Lead Quietly commandments that I proposed in February.

I have written about learning frequently. My personal carnival of learning at Lead Quietly would include these posts:
These posts all stress the importance of learning to leadership. I truly believe in the notion as stated by John F Kennedy when he said, "Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other."

Nevertheless, I feel that my view of learning and leadership is too myopic. Most of my thinking about learning was centered on my own desire to learn and understand as a leader and team member. However, as a leader, we must also strive to create learning environments for all around us. A situation where everyone views learning as indispensable.

In the workplace of days past, any discussion of learning generally led to a discussion about training, likely formal instructor-led training. However, today the opportunities for learning include new, informal collaborative learning approaches. Personal learning should no longer mean a taking class.

In another revelation, I participated in a number of hiring interviews in the past few weeks where I usually asked a question about learning style. I would simply ask, "How did you learn the skills that you know?" I was never impressed if the response was "a class or school." I was impressed if the candidate talked about a number of channels including web sites, forums, blogs, and networks.

This leads me to the theme that I am proposing for the next few weeks on this blog. I want to explore learning for the today's workplace. I'd like to focus on creating a learning environment for not only me but the people around me. I'd like to get some hint about the future of learning. What are the tools that we should be exploring. How do the social media tools fit into this thinking. Who are the thought leaders in learning?

As a new student of learning, I need help. I need the insight of learning experts. What are the approaches and tools that leaders should employ to create a learning environment for everyone on their team? I'll be reading, learning, and studying.

However, I need help. Please send me you thoughts about team and personal learning in a collaborative environment. Use either Twitter or comments to this post.

Thanks for reading. Please lead quietly and help me better understand learning and increase my view of learning across my team.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Balance in the news

I appreciate balance. It's a concept that comes with many definitions and many dimensions. This is how I actually view the concept when I say that it is important for leaders to "Stay balanced."

I'm not alone in my desire to seek balance. Here is a carnival of balance from this morning's Google news:
People and organizations in many areas seek balance. It's complex. It's desirable. It's multi-dimensional.

Finally, the balance in the news that I was most excited about this morning is quoted in the Star Tribune of Minneapolis and St. Paul in an article titled, Lots to like in lineup. On the 2009 Minnesota Twins lineup,

It's a lineup balanced with lefthanded, righthanded and switch hitters, and balanced with speed and power potential.
Balance also gives hope.

Thanks for reading. Please lead quietly. Stay balanced.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Finding the right balance

I believe that balance in opinion, aspirations, views, collaboration, and politics is a positive force in life and leadership. I believe that a key mission of leadership is to help our teams and organizations find that middle ground where differing opinions can coexist and real strength in purpose and mission can thrive. It is my belief that most leadership challenges do not have black and white answers. The best position on most issues is likely to have some shade of gray.

My explorations and reading this past week brought two examples of "Finding the right balance."

New Dialogue on Abortion
We all recognize the ongoing debate on the abortion issue. It is not my intention to debate this issue on this forum. Nevertheless, the black and whiteness of the opposing perspectives could support a polarizing debate forever. I read with interest this morning in the Star Tribune (yes, I'm old fashioned and I read the paper edition of the newspaper every morning) the article titled "One side tries new strategy in debate over abortion." The article sites that there is a growing trend by organizations to move public opinion on a variety of issues toward solutions instead of polarization. The American mood is showing increasing fatigue with extreme politics whether the issue is abortion, gay marriage, stimulus debate on tax cuts versus spending. I am one of them who is saying, find some common ground at a point where the color is some shade of gray and let's move toward solutions.

The Impact of Money
Another example of balance came from an article on the New Scientist site titled "Why money messes with your mind." Our relationship with money is complex and has many dimensions. This becomes particularly clear when you evaluate the relationship between greed (think Bernard Madoff) and social ethics. The balance message in the article is that there is a positive and desired balance between the pursuit of extrinsic aspirations (money and wealth) and intrinsic aspirations (building personal relationships). In summary, a more balanced relationship with money is better. Although, "we are still a long from knowing why some people appear to go crazy over money", there is recognition that balance is better.

Thanks for reading. Please lead quietly and stay balanced.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Keeping the Brain Young

This post is a third post for the week that commemorates Brain Awareness Week. The general message that I am promoting is that your brain is a tool that we must nurture and develop in order to learn and grow.

The Dana Foundation is the founder and primary sponsor of Brain Awareness Week. An exploration of their web site uncovers numerous articles, events, podcasts and more about current brain research. It's an interesting review of the current state of brain research.

On my exploration, I discovered a document titled Q & A - Answering your Questions About Brain Research. I appreciated the simple question and answer format and would recommend the document for anyone who is curious about basic brain functions and the role of the brain in learning, life, and health. A sample of the questions include:
  • How does the brain work?
  • How do we learn?
  • How does the brain influence and regulate the function of the other body systems?
  • Can the brain heal itself from trauma or injury?
  • Why do some people develop mental illnesses?
Curious about the brain? This is a nice document.

More than any other question that caught my attention was, How can I keep my brain young?

The list is pretty simple, most of which are very accessible to anyone that want to say vital in life. Here's how to keep your brain young:
  • Incorporating physical activity—especially aerobic exercise—into our daily schedule, even if only for 10 minutes at a time.
  • Stimulating our mind with mental activities and novel experiences that challenge the brain and activate new neural pathways.
  • Interacting with other people and engaging in social activities.
  • Having a sense of self-worth and self-efficacy, the feeling that what we do matters.
  • Reducing cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
  • Eating a healthful diet that includes plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables (for antioxidants and other vitamins and minerals) and fatty fish or nuts (sources of Omega-3 fatty acids), and that limits trans fat and saturated fats.
  • Managing stress and finding healthful ways to cope with high-stress periods.
  • Getting adequate amounts of sleep—about 8 hours for most adults.
  • In addition, population-based studies seem to suggest that mild to moderate alcohol consumption—from a couple of drinks a week up to about two a day—is associated with longer life, and in some cases better cognitive functioning. However, it is not at all clear if this is due to a true biological effect of alcohol or because the people who drank alcohol tended to also be doing something else good for their brain health, such as interacting socially.
The answer invites you to work "brain-friendly" activities in your life and to know that it is never too late to start. Brains of any age can benefit.

Final piece of fascinating trivia from the Q&A article:
Did you know that the 3 pound marvel that we know as the brain is typically only 2 percent of our body weight but consumes 20 percent of our oxygen and 20 percent of our bodies energy. It strikes me that the brain is one energy guzzler that we don't' want to go green.

Thanks for reading. Please lead quietly. Keep your brain young and guzzling.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Brain Rules

This post is a second post for the week that commemorates Brain Awareness Week. The general message that I am promoting is that your brain is a tool that we must nurture and develop in order to learn and grow.

Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School by Dr. John Medina is a very interesting and captivating book that presents 12 brain rules for optimizing your .... brain.

I found the book pretty amazing. For a book that is based on substantive scientific research, it is a good page-turner. For those who want the twenty minute overview, I'd encourage you to visit the Brain Rules website for a complete list of rules. Additionally, you can can view fairly comprehensive videos at his site and also on You Tube.

There were several take-aways that resonated with me from the book. Here are some examples:

Exercise benefits muscles and the brain - we know that exercise is good for our bodies. It is incredibly good for the brain. How much? Active people have half the risk of Alzheimer's disease compared to sedentary people. Let's keep up the exercise. I think the crunches will be a little easier with this new information.

Impossible Multitasking - I consider myself to be a great multitasker. At work, colleagues can send me a dozen issues and I can alternate between attention and division to get the the tasks handled. But the reality is that the brain simply cannot multitask. Watch the You Tube video with John's rant about cell phone use in cars.

The Power of Sleep and Naps - Our brains are very active during sleep and continue to develop and rehearse while sleeping. The essential message is that good sleep lead to good brains. Additionally, there is research that suggests that our brain has a period during the day where the benefits of a nap are profound; a nap zone. Research by NASA shows that a 25 minute nap increase pilot performance by 34%. Not a bad return return. How do we convince our employers? A good nap requires a least a cot.

Vision Wins - Brain Rules provides evidence that when it comes to impact, vision wins. Recognition and memory are aided significantly by visual cues in your presentations and documents. When I need to be persuasive, I need to add vision to my presentation.

We are curious explorers - Research with babies suggests that we are natural explorers. Give a baby an object and you will discover the a baby methodically looks to understand. Curiosity is an incredible motivator for learning, growth and problem solving.

Enjoy the book. It is highly recommended. Now it's time for me to exercise and then a nap.

Thanks for reading. Please lead quietly. Brain rules.

Monday, March 16, 2009

It's Brain Awareness Week - Let's focus on learning

This week is Brain Awareness Week. Founded by the Dana Foundation, the event promotes that:

Brain Awareness Week (BAW) is an international campaign dedicated to advancing public awareness about the progress and benefits of brain research. Founded and coordinated by the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives and its sister organization, the European Dana Alliance for the Brain, BAW is now entering its fourteenth year as a catalyst for public understanding of brain science.

I wasn't aware of the event before this past weekend but I have decided that the brain is a nice focus for some learning that I wanted to pursue in a couple of posts this week. This notion started as I was watching the public TV show, "Brain Fitness Program." My curiosity about brain development eventually brought me to the Dana Foundation web site where I became aware of BAW.

Continuous learning is so important to success and the health of your brain is key. In recognition of BAW, let's revisit a couple of "fun" brain/learning posts from my archives.

In Improve Your Brain Power - Use your right brain I encouraged you to develop your brain by switching you mouse to your non-dominant hand.

In Learning to Use the Full Brain, I provided a link where you could experiment with the "Left Brain versus Right Brain test.

The full list Lead Quietly learning posts is here.

I'll focus on the brain in subsequent posts this week.

Thanks for reading. Please lead quietly and remember, it's all about learning.


Sunday, March 1, 2009

Quiet - It is Just a Label, Not a Description

I believe that the adjective "quiet" is not a great descriptor of the leadership style that I have tried to describe over the last 20 months of writing this blog.

I had a discussion this past week with some of my colleagues and again found that I had to explain that Quiet is really only a label and not really part of the substance. I almost feel that if someone focused on quiet, they might miss the real substance behind the leadership style.

There are better labels. Those more descriptive labels and the posts where I explored these more descriptive styles include:

Bill George - Authentic Leadership "Be Yourself"

Servant Leadership from Quiet Leader Hall of Famer Robert Greenleaf "Servant Leadership"

Leaderful Practice - Shared Leadership from Joe Raelin "We need to be Leaderful not Leaderless"

If you focus on quiet you might miss other concepts that I have tried to communicate. First and foremost are the leadership elements cited in my masthead including community, collaboration, learning, vision, and balance. These concepts have little to do with quiet.

Bottom line: Quiet is not very descriptive. It is however, the label and the brand around which I have blogged in my quest to identify leadership that is simply effective.

Thanks for reading. Please lead quietly err.... effectively.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Quiet Leader Commandments - Without the Stone Tablets

Do you have a personal set of commandments? I do but I don't. I've feel like I try live my life with a set of principles, many of which I have identified in this blog. But I don't because I have never put them onto a list. I'm not envisioning a set of stone tablets; too difficult to modify, but there should be a list.

The whole notion of a personal set of commandments occurred to me when I Tweeted last week that I was impressed with the Twelve Commandments of author Gretchen Rubin on her Happiness Project blog. Hers is a simple list. So simple that you don't have to click through the hyperlink to get more information.

My goal is such a list. But I feel some intrinsic need to keep my list to ten. Here I go:
  1. Always learning, always improving, always practicing.
  2. Be humble.  (Added September 24, 2011 Link)
  3. Stay balanced.
  4. Be resourceful, be a problem solver.
  5. Show vision.
  6. Be nice, be decent, be fair.
  7. Serve.
  8. Show gratitude.
  9. Communicate well.
  10. Listen always.
  11. The best answer is the honest answer.  (Edited September 24, 2011.  Link)
I'm always looking for feedback and comments. Please share your additions or modifications. Help me improve my list.

On a related note, check out Phil Gerbyshak's Ten Commandments of Management on Slacker Manager. Thanks Phil

Thanks for reading. Please lead quietly.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Leadership is a Performance Art

"Leadership is a performing art, and you can never be too good at it."

This statement is one of the key points made by Wharton School Professor Steward D. Friedman on his Harvard Publishing blog in You Are a Leader (Really!)

I have some background in music performance and the link between leadership and performance resonated with me. Any performance art is clearly a skill that is never completely mastered.

Music virtuosos never stop practicing. As for leaders, the same requirement holds true. As Friedman writes,
It's the same with leaders. The best ones commit to learning continually, because they want to make a difference.

Selfishly, I confess that my primary motivation for writing and sharing from this blog is to learn. And now, at 6:30 AM I am ready to go to work to practice my performance art, a little more inspired that I was at 6:00 AM. I believe I can make a difference.

Thanks for reading. Please lead quietly and keep practicing and learning.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Education IS Economic Stimulus

Politics is not the theme of this blog. And that is not going to change. However, this morning I listened to Bill Gate's TEDTalk from last week. In a subtle way it intersected with an element of the politics around the economic stimulus bill.

I have watched a number of TEDTalks over the years and am inspired by the presentations of great thinkers and innovators. I couldn't wait to watch Bill Gate's "unplugged" talk about the work of his foundation.

Bill explored two issues that his foundation is trying to address. The first was eradicating malaria. Nice cause and there was one quote in this segment that caused me to go "hmmm." With millions of people in the world dying of malaria, did you know that there is more medical research funding in the prevention of baldness than there is the prevention of malaria. I guess that demonstrates the power of wealth.

The second question explored by Gates was about education. His question is, "How do you make a teacher great?”

In his talk, he cites research that suggests the biggest differentiator in quality school education is a good teacher and unfortunately, our system is not doing enough to develop good teachers.

Like many people, as the details of the economic stimulus plan became public, I didn't think that any substantive investment in school education should be a part of the stimulus package. I'm a proponent of public education but I didn't see any quick economic stimulus from the education components of the bill that came from the House of Representatives. My thinking is changing.

Consider this Bill Gate's thought that I am paraphrasing from his talk.
A top teacher will increase test scores over 10% in a year in the average classroom. If we could place these top teachers into all of our classrooms for two years, the entire educational difference between the US and Asia would go away. If we had them for four years, we’d blow the rest of the world away.
A quick burst of teacher and school development could make a difference for both our short and long term economic needs. With this perspective, my thinking about education as a part of our stimulus package is changing. Somewhere along the line, we need to be investing in our teachers. As I am known to say, "It's all about learning!"

I would encourage you to visit TED for inspiration. It is highly recommended.

Also, the Gates Foundation web site provides links to relevant research on the impact of education.

Thanks for reading and putting up with a little bit of politics. Please lead quietly.

It's all about learning.


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

"No problem" is not the answer for gratitude

When someone thanks me, I have a tendency to say, "No problem." Not a great response.

Interesting how a new point is etched in your mind in today's Web 2.0 environment.

In my morning review of my Twitter account, I was following the learning discoveries of Ed Sweeney on Twitter. I don't know Ed but started following his Tweets when he cited some of my Lead Quietly posts in Twitter. I could see that he was a student of leadership like me and I'm always looking to leverage the discoveries of others so I started following Ed on Twitter. Thanks Ed for your discoveries.

Yesterday, he cites an article on Juggling Elephants as a good read. I follow his link and go browsing and end up on the Juggling Elephants blog reading a post entitled, "The Phrase that Irks." Sorry for the long lead up to the point but I find it fascinating how dots are connected and intersections made. Now, on to the phrase that irks.

As I have written a number of times, I'm a fan of gratitude. Saying thank you is a simple way to build community. The point of the Juggling Elephants post was that "No Problem" is not a good response to gratitude. As they write,
it helps to get rid of the "no problem" phrase. Let them know you are happy to do it because of what they mean to you. Find a positive way to respond instead of a less negative one.

It's a great idea and a simple switch for me. I'll start saying, "My pleasure."

Thanks for reading. Please lead quietly. It's my pleasure.


Sunday, February 1, 2009

Disappointing Dogmatism, It's not Leadership

I've been thinking about dogmatism and its negative impact. This thinking started with my disappointment with the dogmatism I saw on display in Congress this past week. In fact, it causes me to yell out "Dogmatism is not leadership!"

The newsworthy display of dogmatism was Congress and their notable actions on the crafting and vote for an economic stimulus plan. I saw dogmatism on both sides of the Congressional aisle.

First let's define what we are talking about. I appreciate the definition of dogmatism as defined by The Ism Book. It defined dogmatism as,
An approach to ideas that emphasizes rigid adherence to doctrine over rational and enlightened inquiry.
I felt that both Democrats and Republicans and their leadership in the House of Representatives were demonstrating dogmatism and not leadership in the past week. The Democrats demonstrated their dogmatism by presenting a stimulus plan that contained social measures and frankly pork in response to eight years of Republican handcuffs. The Republicans responded by their groupthink approach in not breaking ranks to offer a single vote for the plan. It is truly hard to believe that not one Republican Representative thought that the plan would not benefit their district.

In the end, I still think we should applaud the President's attempts to bring the sides together for "rational and enlightened inquiry", even if it takes a cocktail or Super Bowl party.

The country is clearly looking for a plan that can lead us out of our economic woes. I think that most citizens like me understand that the answers are not not clear, they are not definitive. There are multiple opinions and beliefs. The economists certainly don't agree.

I believe that the best stimulus approach will be found somewhere on middle ground. There will be some balance between ideas. For the stimulus plan it likely means some balance between tax cuts and spending.

However, more then ever, we should demand thoughtful discussion and inquiry on the part of our politicians. We don't need politics as usual. Dogmatism is not leadership.

Thanks for reading my rants about dogmatism. It is not leadership. Please lead quietly

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Godin's "Tribes" - I defaced it.

I defaced my copy of Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us. It's not what you think. I liked Seth Godin's latest book and its ideas.

You see, I have this habit of writing reference notes in the back pages of the books that I read. If there is an idea or insight that I feel that I want to revisit, I will write a one or two word note and a page reference. The note allows me to go back and revisit an idea. Most of the books that I read have only a handful of notes. By the time I had finished Tribes, I had nearly two pages and 16 high-level ideas that I wanted to revisit. Combined with some dog ears, my copy of Tribes is a bit of a mess. It's defaced.

Before I started reading Tribes, Godin was already a hero of mine. As an author, blogger, and marketer, his work had already impacted my thinking about marketing, the web, and entrepreneurship. I was anxious to connect with his latest book, Tribes, because of it's focus on leadership.

My admiration for the book is not unqualified. If you are looking for a leadership book with substantive leadership theory, I recommend that you consider Warren Bennis, Peter Drucker, James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, Jim Collins, Tom Peters, Robert Greenleaf and others.

On the other hand, if you are looking for contemporary insight at the intersection of leadership, marketing, and social networking, Godin provides plenty of thought provoking insights and ideas. These are the thoughts that led me to deface my copy.

Here are a handful of Godin's ideas.

Leadership is a choice that you make. I have written previously about leadership choice. Godin agrees and writes, "everyone in an organization-not just the boss-is expected to lead...individuals have more leverage than every before."

Fear of failure is overrated. Fear is a significant inhibitor of innovation and progress. He says, "We choose not to be remarkable because we're worried about criticism."

Curiosity - Godin puts curiosity on a pedestal. He says, "Curious people count....curiosity... will lead us to distinguish our own greatness."

Leadership requires bravery.
"Managing doesn't, and following the rules to make a living doesn't.... Pushing the envelope.... requires bravery."

Wrong isn't fatal
. Godin reminds us that Steve Jobs at Apple has been plenty wrong. Although most recent thinking about Jobs concerns his health, the reputation of Jobs isn't based on his failures like the Apple III, NeXT, or Newton. "The secret of being wrong isn't to avoid being wrong. The secret is being willing to be wrong. The secret is realizing that wrong isn't fatal."

These are just a handful of insights that I noted in defacing my copy of Tribes. There is much more inside. I recommend that you get your own copy to deface.

Thanks for reading. Be brave and curious. Please lead quietly.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Uncommon Decency

When you depart, will they describe you with the words, "Uncommon Decency?"

In May of 2008, I recognized the leadership of Indianapolis football coach, Tony Dungy, in a post, Quiet Strength, Quiet Leader, Quiet Winner where I nominated Coach Dungy for the Lead Quietly Hall of Fame.

Yesterday, columnist Jim Souhan of the Minneapolis Star Tribune wrote a column on Coach Dungy's retirement as a football coach where the headline read, "Tony Dungy: Uncommon Decency. "

The headline generated two thoughts in my "lead quietly" way of thinking:
  1. It's a highly unusual label for a sports celebrity.
  2. Will anyone describe my work or life using the phrase "Uncommon Decency?"
Thanks for reading. Please lead quietly. Be uncommonly decent.