Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Good News for Quiet Leaders - Thoughts about your skills for the future

If you are a quiet leader and aspire to the type of leadership skills and approaches that we describe here at Lead Quietly, there is good news. These are exactly the skills that will allow you to thrive in the future. Your skills around community, collaboration, and learning will match perfectly to the skills you will need to achieve in our new networked world.

This notion was validated recently by a post on the Harvard Business Review blog by Bill Drayton and Valeria Budinich entitled Get Ready to Be a Changemaker. the post contains insightful descriptions of our changing world.

I have stated frequently on this blog that everyone can and should lead. Here is the one statement from the Drayton and Budinich post that first caught my attention.
We are transitioning from a world in which a small elite runs everything to a world in which everyone needs to be a player.

Drayton and Budnich propose that command and control leadership will not work in a complex world. Everyone must be a leader.
Fifty years ago, Detroit was the symbol of American ingenuity and prosperity. Henry Ford and his small group of managers did all the thinking and told everyone else what to do. This command-and-control approach works in a relatively static world where most tasks are repetitive — such as building cars on an assembly line. It does not work in today's fast-paced, change-is-the-name-of-the-game world; and it will not work tomorrow.
Autonomy is a among the best motivators and is needed to get the most from people. An organization needs to allow employees to be leaders.
Companies like Google and Apple are attracting great thinkers and doers — not because they promise to tell their employees what to do but precisely because they pledge to give them the autonomy to do what they are best at and to act as critical players no matter their position in the organizational structure.

So how do the quiet leader skills fit in. Consider this match.
To be effective in this new world, you will need to master the skills of empathy and teamwork, as well as leadership and driving change. You will need to know how to function in a world that is not a hierarchy but a kaleidoscopic global team of teams, with no boundaries between sectors and change that happens at an escalating pace.

My quiet leader recommendation is to continue to learn and grow in your quiet leader skills. Community, team, and collaboration may be the most important skills of all.

Thanks for reading. Please lead quietly and keep meshing up.

Don









2 comments:

Mr. Salamack said...

While you have pointed out some outstanding successes of quiet leadership, this type of leadership pertains to a select few. Leadership styles must match the environment in which they operate and that certainly includes the people being lead. In the examples you have provided, those being lead are among the top 1% in their field in the world. They are, by nature, strategic thinkers and leaders in their own right. Quiet leadership works for these individuals. The other 99% require a more hands on approach. The statement that we are transitioning from a top-down or select few leaders making all the decisions to a requirement that everyone be a player is a great goal, however not everyone is suited for this role nor can they learn this skill. A break down of Myers-Briggs scores will show that the majority of people, however creative and useful, do not have leadership or decision making capabilities in their personality DNA. While it would be nice if they did, and it would be great if they could learn it, this shift cannot occur.

Continue to practice quiet leadership. You shall lead among the best and the brightest. Be prepared to modify this approach the further from the top those being lead are.

Don Frederiksen said...

Dave,

Thank you for visiting. I appreciate your comments.

I agree that there are different leadership styles, even different leadership styles at different levels.

I also agree that leadership is not for everyone even though I say, "everyone can and should lead." To me it is more important to recognize that leadership is a choice not a a title. Everyone could choose to lead even in a small way.

In my definition, a leader doesn't have to be in front making decisions. There is an opportunity to lead even if it isn't in their personality DNA. The "I" in my Meyers Briggs profile has nothing, in my opinion, to do with leadership.

Interesting thoughts,

Don