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