Sunday, January 4, 2009

Quiet Leadership in the Workplace

Dear reader,
I would like to share the following literature review with you. Please see the bibliography. I am sincerely grateful to these authors from whom I learned tremendously about leadership -- specifically quiet leadership. I look forward to your comments.
Thank you,
A Literature Review About Quiet Leadership in the Workplace
Sergio Canales
Organizational Leadership and Administration
Dr. Timothy Pies
Concordia University
OLA 585, Section A15
Leaders are considered to be good and effective if they are bold, brash, charismatic and heroic. One often reads about the successes of such leaders and their followers. This literature review examines leaders who exhibit the opposite of the above mentioned characteristics, leaders who are quiet, reserved, humble and modest. It also examines how they problem solve, how they promote learning, as well as their source of motivation, and potential negatives of quiet leadership. The information in this review is from the following sources: contemporary non-fiction books about leadership, journals, articles, websites, as well as an autobiography and biography. Although there is not a wealth of literature available about quiet leadership, a substantial amount does exist. Based on this literature, if one knows what to look for, one will discover quiet leaders and their success. In fact, one should be aware of and look for quiet leaders because today’s fast-paced and complex knowledge-based economy and workforce benefit from the traits and qualities of quiet leaders and quiet leadership.

Chapter One
Description of the Problem:

Traditionally, leaders are considered to be good if they are bold, brash and heroic. Thinking about leaders primarily in terms of heroic figures can be partial, misleading and hazardous, as there are many quiet leaders through whom which countless and often unseen efforts contribute to the success of organizations (Badaracco 2002).

Across the United States, on a regular basis, one reads about the successes of bold and charismatic leaders such as Jack Welsh, Lee Iacocca and General Patton. They are known for their command-and-control style of leadership. One is hard pressed to find a story about quiet leaders and whether they are successful.

Since the 1990s, the U.S. and other economies have become knowledge-based economies. As a result, Generation X and subsequent generations who enter the work force are better educated and paid to think. They do not want command-and-control leaders. They want leaders who help them shine, who help them fulfill their potential at work (Rock 2006). Organizations should be cognizant about what these generations want, and about how and why quiet leaders help individuals and organizations succeed.

The purpose of this independent study is to assess literature that examines quiet leadership. Furthermore, the focus of the study is on character traits, problem solving techniques and learning techniques which are evident in quiet leaders. In addition, the study covers what motivates quiet leaders, as well as potential negatives of quiet leadership. Lastly, this study covers implications and recommendations for further study of quiet leadership.

Chapter Two – Literature Review
Theme One - Characteristics
Leadership is authenticity – not style (George 2003). Quiet leadership is not a style. It is not brash, charismatic, compelling or seemingly fearless (Whitehead 2005). In order to lead successfully, these qualities are not essential to leadership. In his book “Good to Great”, Jim Collins uses Darwin Smith, CEO of Kimberley Clark as an example. In 20 years, Smith led the company from good to great outperforming others such as Coca-Cola, 3M and General Electric. Smith never cultivated hero status or executive celebrity status. He is described as being shy and lacking pretense. Collins’ research also shows that employees in organizations that went from good to great described their leaders as quiet, humble, modest, reserved, shy, gracious, mild-mannered, self effacing and understated (Collins 2001). Collins refers to these leaders as “Level 5” leaders. In another example, Jim Irsay, owner of the Indianapolis Colts football team, recruited Tony Dungy as head coach by telling him the following. “I want an organization and team that emphasizes character, values, and family, and I want it to extend out into the community in a meaningful way. You’re the only person I want as head coach (Dungy 2007).” Irsay knew that Dungy had all the characteristics of a Level 5 leader, and felt the team would benefit from Dungy’s approach to leadership.

Character sets quiet leaders apart, not tactics. They rely heavily on three unglamorous virtues which are not associated with heroic virtues. They are restraint, modesty and tenacity (Badaracco 2002).

Quiet leaders realize leadership is a long process, rather than a single, dramatic event. They realize taking a forceful stand on principle can be an easy way out of a situation, but can make things worse. Restraint is active, vigilant and often creative (Badaracco 2002). Lack of restraint is a common failing of nearly all tough, macho leaders. They cannot stop themselves from taking charge. They cannot hold themselves back from making decisions where none are needed, or where any choice will be premature. They interfere constantly with other people’s jobs, micromanaging and over-supervising in their constant need to be doing something—anything—to stay active and involved. Leaders need restraint for two reasons: to hold back from rushing into decisions or action when time is needed to wait for the situation to clarify; and to keep from doing things, or making choices, that are the responsibility of their subordinates. When this happens, subordinates’ jobs are reduced to carrying out instructions sent down from on high (Savage 2008). This is demoralizing to today’s knowledge-based workers.

Modesty is also a hallmark of quiet leaders. They aren’t out to change the world. They realize that most things worth doing are like traces on a beach, neither grand nor permanent (Badaracco 2002). “Champions don’t beat themselves. If you want to win, do the ordinary things better than anyone else does – day in and day out (Dungy 2007).” Also described as quiet, Level 5 leaders often attribute the success of the company to luck and refuse to take credit. Level 5 leaders look out the window to apportion credit to factors outside themselves when things go well – if they cannot find a person or event they credit good luck. Conversely, Level 5 leaders look in the mirror to apportion responsibility, never blaming bad luck when things go poorly (Collins 2001).

Quiet leaders have lots of tenacity. They act because they care, and they care because strong motives, some altruistic, some self-regarding, impel them forward. They make certain their motives are strong enough to carry them through difficulties (Badaracco 2002). They have a ferocious resolve and determination to do whatever needs to be done to make the company great (Collins 2001).

Additional characteristics of a quiet leader are patience and thoughtfulness. Quiet leaders do not let their passions rule them. Their inspiration is calmer, almost spiritual in natureguided by high ideas. They are persuasive by appealing to the better side of a person (Whitehead 2005). Tony Dungy is an example of a patient and quiet leader. In his autobiography, “Quiet Strength”, the NFL football head coach recalls a losing streak and the following quote from a player. “I was always waiting for you to blow up in practice, at halftime, in a Monday game-film review. With all the near misses that were resulting from guys just not paying attention to the details, I figured at some point you were going to lose it. But your never did. I don’t know how you did it, but I think that’s why we finally got the message (Dungy 2007).”

Quiet leaders know that criticism does not help performance. To transform people’s performance leaders need to master the skill of acknowledgement and build new mental wiring around seeing what people are doing well. Quiet leaders watch out for how people are challenging themselves, growing, learning and developing. Transforming performance requires providing continuous positive feedback, in many forms, over time and the need to validate, confirm, encourage, support and believe in people’s potentials (Rock 2006).

Quiet leaders do not like to be the center of attention. In the book “Leadership Lessons from West Point”, Eric Wies says that leaders in all ranks prefer to work behind the spotlight and quietly move mountains. Successful soldiers make noise as quiet professionals. Instead of accolades, noise manifests itself as subordinates identify with the leader, adopt, internalize dedication and make the organization stronger (Weis 2007). According to former first lady Lou Henry Hoover, a good leader should lead from the back and allow her charges to discover things for themselves (Mayer 1994). Leading from the back eliminates the leader from being the center of attention and promotes autonomy which is what employees want.

Traditionally, great leaders are considered to be thundering orators and dashing. This is untrue of quiet leaders. Successful quiet leaders are more “plow” horse rather than “show” horse. A damaging trend recently is the tendency to select dazzling, celebrity leaders and to de-select potential Level 5 leaders (Collins 2001). Peyton Manning, a player with the Indianapolis Colts, hinted that the leadership of their team was insufficient because they needed somebody who gets in people’s faces and yells, not someone mild-mannered and even-keeled to be successful. Tony Dungy responded by saying, “This is the way I coach, and I believe that is the best way to win football games and lead people. A good leader gets people to follow because they want to, not because he makes them. I never have been the type to get in people’s faces, and I never will be (Dungy 2007).”

Quiet leaders display a humble fortitude (Weis 2007). They are secure of themselves without having a huge ego. They have a friendly, down-to-earth practicality about themselves. This is important because today’s employees demand personal relationships with leaders. They insist on having access to their leaders (George 2003). Command-and- control leaders make it difficult for subordinates to raise concerns or share valuable information.

Quiet leaders are good listeners. They know what they don’t know (Weis 2007). Listening helps leaders better understand their employees and business. When leaders listen, employees realize genuine care. In the process, potential and drive among employees increases. There is much to gain and little to lose by listening to a wide range of advice (Whitehead 2005). Listening for potential and believing in employees completely allows leaders to measure and monitor how people are growing. By not listening, leaders can easily fall into the trap of focusing on employee problems, getting lost in the details, or misled by their own agendas (Rock 2006).

Quiet leaders speak with intent. They are succinct and specific during conversations, especially when trying to transform performance. Focusing on being succinct makes the leader get clearer about the core message. By completing the message in a couple of sentences instead of a few minutes, the leader is more authentic. Sincere words are not embellished. Listeners can process bite sized pieces of information rather than digest several minutes of ideas at once. Speaking this way provides a foundation for change to occur (Rock 2006).

Embracing the notion of self-evaluation and self-discipline are also characteristics of quiet leaders. In evaluating themselves, they build fortitude to react and effect change, as well as influences conditions and create opportunities (Weis 2007). They also demonstrate self-discipline which is needed to convert values into consistent actions. In addition, quiet leaders, like authentic leaders, accept their own faults and do not cover-up shortcomings (George 2003). Above all, quiet leaders admit their mistakes. They apologize for lapses in judgment. By acknowledging they "blew it," they allow employees to do the same. This creates a supportive work environment where everyone can speak comfortably without feeling threatened (Stettner 2000).

Quiet leaders are unassuming, skeptical and shrewdly realistic. They have a healthy sense of their own self-interest as well as the organization’s. They aren’t pessimists or cynics. Yet, they recognize all sorts of things can happen. Therefore, they make ample room for ways in which people or events can surprise, dismay and astonish (Badaracco 2002).
Quiet leaders keep an eye on the insiders. Despite the talk of flat organizations, companies are still generally divided into relatively secure insiders and expendable outsiders. They know who the insiders are and how to deal with them. In the book, “Tempered Radicals”, Debra Meyerson describes quiet leaders as not being heroic leaders of revolutionary change, but, rather cautious and committed catalysts who keep going and slowly make a difference. They become “everyday leaders” in organizations, often unrecognized but essential agents of organizational learning and change (Meyerson 2001).

Quiet leaders influence others by their disposition, not position. Leadership is a choice one makes – not a place where one sits (Maxwell 2005). Here too, Tony Dungy is a good example of this characteristic. Football is a game of emotion, so the saying goes. You would never know it watching Tony Dungy. Winning or losing, he radiates the same calm demeanor. Yes, you may see him dispute a ref’s call a time or two, but most often when a call goes against his team, he will simply shake his head or smile wanly. Such calmness centers his team and keeps players grounded and focused (Baldoni 2008).

Enduring relationships also are common to quiet leaders. Today’s employees demand personal relationships with leaders (George 2003). Others follow because they know where they stand. Quiet leaders sincerely care for people. Potential and drive increase when leaders genuinely care. Soldiers won’t care what you know until they know you care (Weis 2007). Furthermore, quiet leaders are more inclusive, realistic and inspiring as leaders – than are images of leadership found in popular business press (Meyerson 2001).
Enduring relationships are more easily formed when one is inclusive, realistic and inspiring.

Theme Two - Problem Solving
Problem solving is another aspect which helps define quiet leadership. Quiet leaders must have an ethical dimension when solving problems. Their moral beliefs follow the golden rule, Boy Scout Oath or Ten Commandments (Whitehead 2005). They know that having a social conscience is sound practice and upstanding organizations will attract the most desirable employees. Quiet leaders do what’s right for their organization, for the people around them, and themselves inconspicuously and without casualties (Badaracco 2002).

Situations calling for quiet leadership are usually complicated, uncertain and hazardous. It is critical to be realistic and not exaggerate how much one really understands. The success of quiet leaders is due to mixed and complicated motives. If motives were not mixed, one would act out of altruism and self-sacrifice, would act less often and less effectively. Quiet leaders draw strength from a multitude of motives, high, low conscious and unconscious, altruistic and self-regarding. They harness, channel, and direct self-interests and low motives in murky situations (Badaracco 2002). Quiet leaders set themselves apart by successfully navigating a middle ground. They choose battles, create pockets of learning and create small wins (Meyerson 2001).

Quiet leaders navigate murky organizational waters. They rock the organizational boat without falling out (Meyerson 2001). When things are murky and shifty success depends on simultaneously grappling with a wide range of considerations. Leaders with complicated motives have an advantage because they have a better understanding of what is going on. They are less likely to miss nuances, pass complications, run towards mirages and fall into traps. This allows them to develop action plans that fit contours and intricacies of their problems (Badaracco 2002).

When quiet leaders solve problems, some response stems from self-interest. Quiet leaders sense their interests are the firms and vice-versa (Whitehead 2005). Complicated, contradictory motives, addressed honestly, can gnaw at people. Quiet leaders don’t settle for simplistic solutions, they live with a situation, work it and rework it. Quiet leaders persevere, endure and succeed because their motives are complicated enough and self-serving enough that they manage to avoid acts of martyrdom and self-immolation. Quiet leaders make the world a better place by creatively working behind the scenes tenaciously, prudently, shrewdly and patiently (Badaracco 2002).

The heroic model of leadership suggests that do-or-die choices are the defining examples of responsible leadership. Quiet leaders view strong measures and heroism as a last resort. Practical ethical challenges are usually mundane, unglamorous and subtle. They are easy to overlook and simplify (Badaracco 2002). Quiet leaders may believe in questioning fundamental principles, but do not advocate extreme measures. They work within systems, not against them (Meyerson 2001). Navy fliers on aircraft carriers are told “there are no old, bold pilots.” Preparation, caution, care and attention to detail are usually the best approach to challenges (Badaracco 2002).

People face problems enmeshed in technological, legal and bureaucratic complexities.
Often the need for heroic courage, moral vision, or corporate credo isn’t needed, but the need to understand what is really going on is. Quiet leaders recognize that high principles, courage and good character are necessary but often far from sufficient in solving problems. Strong convictions can blind people to the specifics and nuances that are critical to practical, responsible action. Attempts to moralize, issue grand pronouncements, and blunder into situations when not enough is known may lead to more problems. Quiet leaders are modest, they know what they don’t know and don’t substitute moral fervor for complicated facts (Badaracco 2002). Justice Sandra Day O’Connor is a good example. Perhaps because she has served alongside more ideologically defined judges such as Justices Brennan, Marshall, Rehnquist, and Scalia, her contextualizing approach has frequently been overshadowed by the sheer drama of her colleagues’ rhetoric. Such oversight has been directly related to a failure to appreciate the emergence of her quiet leadership style and the importance of her post-legal realist use of case facts (Maveety 1996).

Leaders often see according to their expectations, not based on what’s actually in front of them. As a result, leaders get a lot of things wrong (Rock 2006). Quiet leaders work hard and ask questions, listen and learn. They drill down deeply and methodically into the complexities of problems. By boring deeply into complicated, intimidating problems they emerge with ways of seeing things that they never anticipated. Careful examination usually reveals aspects of a situation that aren’t immediately apparent. (Badaracco 2002). Quiet seems to describe the way O’Connor’s subtle influence on the Court’s output – exercised through jurisprudential and behavioral accommodationism – subverts traditional canons of leadership. Her leadership style is distinctive for its utilization of a new, more choral convention of cooperative decision-making and doctrinal production (Maveety 1996).

When quiet leaders are faced with complex ethical dilemmas they follow two guidelines.
They take the rules seriously and they look creatively and imaginatively for ways to follow the spirit of the rules while bending them. Quiet leaders are willing to bend the rules, but to not flagrantly violate them because they care about their self-interest (Badaracco 2002).

Taking the rules seriously doesn’t mean to treat them as paint-by-numbers. Quiet leaders take initiative, trust their creativity, and work hard to create room to maneuver. They approach ethical problems as entrepreneurs, not clerks (Badaracco 2002).

In his book, “Leading from Below the Surface”, Theodore B. Creighton speaks about the difficult dilemma he faced as school superintendent when it came time to hire a teacher. The teacher he wanted to hire was the wife of the school’s principal. The district’s policy stated that one could not be a relative of one’s direct report. He suggests that occasionally rules need bending, not necessarily breaking. He stated, “I was reluctant, for a variety of reasons, to break the rule. But I struggled with obeying the rule mechanically and perhaps causing further harm and hard feelings with personnel. Leading from below the surface involves looking for ways to creatively bend the rules. With the help of members of the school board, and a revisit to board policy, we together decided to hire the principal’s wife, but assign her evaluation to another principal at another high school (Creighton 2005).

Bending the rules is hard work. It involves exercising creativity within the boundaries set by the law, the rules and prevailing customs. It demands discipline and restraint along with flexibility and imagination. It also requires careful judgment about competing obligations that will make a difference in the long run (Badaracco 2002).

Quiet leaders nudge, test and escalate gradually. They are prudent and would rather not risk their careers or reputation. They are modest and believe they are not smart enough to answer difficult questions solely by thinking about them, so they drill down, gather facts, do analysis and look for creative ways to bend the rules and create room to maneuver. They believe leadership depends on learning, and learning involves taking small steps.
Testing, probing and experimenting allows quiet leaders to gradually get a sense of the flow of events, hazards to avoid, and opportunities they can exploit. Instead of a problem-solution approach, they rely on an act-learn-act-learn approach (Badaracco 2002).

Subtlety and restraint are hallmarks of quiet leadership. Quiet leaders aren’t brilliant chess players who plan long series of moves and countermoves. They prefer more cautious, modest ways of thinking and acting. They don’t look for the right answer. They concentrate on finding the right ways to eventually get sound workable answers. Before taking action, they develop a feel for situations, and sense flow of events. They believe leadership is a process, often long and oblique, not a single dramatic or courageous event. When the moment of choice arrives they continue to avoid taking strong stands and work hard to craft compromise (Badaracco 2002). Quiet leaders slowly and steadily push back on conventions, creating opportunities for learning and inspire change in organizations. They are cautious and committed catalysts who keep going and slowly make a difference (Meyerson 2001).

Quiet leaders are good at crafting compromises. They believe that solving problems is not a matter of just splitting the difference. They believe examining risks and rewards, as well as crafting responsible, workable compromises define who leaders are. They are aware of conflicting and mixed motives. They recognize ethical stakes in situations and see them as challenges to their imagination, managerial skills and ability to navigate difficult situations. Also, they try to buy time in order to craft compromise because they assume problems have several levels of complexity. Within the complexity are usually a number of opportunities for maneuvering and imaginative recasting of situations (Badaracco 2002).

This risk-reward approach to leadership is easy to mock and dismiss, can be misunderstood and used badly. Critics say it reduces leadership to cost accounting. They say real leaders do not calculate and measure the right thing – they “just do it.”
However, according to Aristotle – morality is a matter of living by virtue, he believed we should cultivate four virtues – prudence, justice, courage and temperance. Prudence and temperance point to a careful balanced way of dealing with ethical issues (calculate the right thing to do). Prudence and temperance are quiet managerial virtues that are easy to overlook, although, they are needed today with complicated, uncertain and fluid situations (Badaracco 2002).

Quiet leaders know that problems are interesting to discuss, but focusing on solutions is more useful. They develop a discipline for catching themselves when they get problem-focused and refocus their energy on the way ahead. For example, rather than ask “why didn’t you hit your targets?”, they may ask “what do you need to do next time to hit your targets?” (Rock 2006). Quiet leaders know that the best way to gain compliance is to guide employees to discover for themselves that it's in their interest to do what you want. Barking directives at them can undermine their self-worth and fan flames of resentment (Stettner 2002).

Quiet leaders create environments in which people have insights for themselves. They encourage people to reflect more and think less in order to produce insights to resolve dilemmas. David Rock recommends the “Dance of Insight” to help others problem-solve. The “Dance of Insight” consists of the following; getting permission to have a conversation, placing, asking questions and clarifying.

Getting permission helps a person change their train of thought when interrupted. The quiet leader should ask “is this a good time?” and “would it be okay if I asked you more specific questions right now?” Asking a person for permission builds trust, makes the person feel safe and respected (Rock 2006).

Placing anchors the conversation. It establishes the “where are we and where are we going”? It helps those involved think about the same issues from similar perspectives.
It also establishes what will happen first, second, third and last. Also, one should ask “Is this okay with you”? This helps keep one on track and avoid unnecessary conversations, problems and drama (Rock 2006).

Asking questions helps people reflect and gets their brains going, helps them have “aha” moments. The act of having an “aha” moment gives off the kind of energy needed for people to become motivated and willing to take action. One should help others find their own answers. Our answer is drawn from our own experience and probably will not be helpful. Quiet leaders give little advice and ask broad questions. They do not go straight to the source of the problem. They let the other person think about the dilemma and
allow their thinking to take a natural course. One should ask thinking questions such as;
“How often do you think about this?”, “How clear are you about this issue?”, or “Can you see any gaps in your thinking”? Thinking questions inspire people, generate commitment, transforms performance and helps people take action (Rock 2006). Launch Socratic dialogues with workers. Lead with questions, not statements. Ask, "What makes you say that?" or "What other variables do you think we should consider?" When employees evade your questions, prod them for answers. Wait them out if they fail to give prompt, snappy responses. If they say, "I don't know," urge them to offer well-reasoned analysis. Don't let them off the hook by spoon-feeding them what you want them to know (Stettner 2002).

Clarifying is last. One focuses on the person and what they might be learning, not exactly what they are saying. Let their words sink in and trust your gut. Listen for potential and notice if the person nods if you understand them. They will help clarify and move the conversation forward. Help others think more clearly, deeply, more effectively, while staying out of the way (Rock 2006).

The “Dance of Insight” is a framework for having conversations. It helps people think better without telling them what to do and is central to being a quiet leader (Rock 2006). Great leaders understand how people think and feel, furthermore, what motivates them. In order to understand how other people think and feel, we have to be able to step outside our own patterns of thought and behavior, our own ingrained filters and perceptions (ostrowski 2008).

Quiet leaders seek advice to resolve problems. They gather perspectives from a wide variety of sources and rethink problems (Badaracco 2002). While gathering perspectives, quiet leaders put themselves in the shoes of others they are speaking with. They share their humanity while focusing on the needs of others. They also are sensitive in choosing words, so that they are not off-putting (Rock 2006). As a result, they get various factions to work together in pursuit of common goals (Mayer 1994). As quoted by Sir John Whitmore, “To tell people what to do denies or negates intelligence, to ask honors it.” Today’s knowledge-based workers appreciate being able to share their intelligence and perspectives.

Accepting responsibility is another way in which quiet leaders work with problems. In Tony Dungy’s memoir, “Quiet Strength”, he speaks about pressure he received to fire a coach on his team whom he wanted to keep. The coach resigned so that Tony would not have to fire him. “Later, I knew that I had made the wrong decision. Just because a decision is deliberate doesn’t mean hindsight won’t make it clearer. Looking back, I think that decision was the first chink in the Buc’s armor, one that weakened our staff unity. Allowing Mike to resign was a superficial reaction rather than a measured response. It was a break from my philosophy (Dungy 2007)”.

Quiet leaders understand things go wrong. They understand negative situations beyond one’s control do occur. One can complain or make the situation better. “I think people look at our actions in the rough times, when our emotions are raw and our guard is down. That’s when our true character shows and we find out if our faith is real. If I’m going to call myself a Christian, I have to honor Jesus in the disappointments, too (Dungy 2007).”
When things go wrong, quiet leaders maintain control of their attitude, approach and response.

Quiet leaders know how to balance the needs of staff and customers with their own goals, and to nurture a shared vision. They don’t look for the right answer, they concentrate on finding the right ways to eventually get sound workable answers (Badaracco 2002). For example, professional football players spend many hours a day in meetings and at practice which makes it difficult to spend time with or watch children. Previous to Tony Dungy becoming head coach for the Colts, children weren’t welcomed at the offices. Tony made it a point to let everyone know families were always welcome in their area of the building (Dungy 2007).

Theme three – Learning
Quiet leaders believe leadership depends on learning. Generation X and Y want leaders who help them learn and improve. We try to help colleagues think through situations and unconsciously assume that their brain works the same as ours. We input the problem, see the connections our brain would make to solve the problem and offer a solution that would work for us. We tell people what we would do and are convinced it’s what they should do. Thinking for others wastes energy. Everyone has different mental maps. Quiet leaders improve people’s performance by helping them find new ways to approach situations that leaves their existing mental maps in place and allows for the development and hard wiring of new habits. They give up trying to fix behaviors and become fascinated with identifying and growing people’s strengths (Rock 2006).

Traditionally, parents and teachers have not asked questions to learn something, but to teach what they determined was important. In the adult world, effective questions are designed to help us learn about the other person’s way of thinking, and to gather information. Most of us ask leading questions designed to influence others to our way of thinking. This is not productive (

Asking leading questions holds one’s agenda in sight, and are designed to end up with a predetermined answer. The person asking the question is focused on getting to this result. They are not really listening to the responder with an open mind but looking for confirmation of their own thinking ( Quiet leaders understand that it is better to ask neutral questions to promote learning. According to Dungy, his mom and dad wouldn’t give answers. They would not say here are the steps: A, B and C. Instead, they allowed him to figure things out for himself and to explore and grow. Who I am today and the way I think were shaped by that time with my parents (Dungy 2007).

In order to promote learning, quiet leaders let others do all the thinking. They do this by helping direct conversations. For example, they may ask an employee “how can I best help you think this through?” Quiet leaders facilitate a self-directed learning process through which people make deep and new connections in their mind. These new connections release energy and create “aha” moments in people. Quiet leaders help people harness the energy in these “aha” moments to inspire better performance. Letting others come up with their own ideas is a well of motivation to tap (Rock 2006).

Quiet leaders help others learn by getting them to notice the current reality, explore alternatives and tap energy. Examples of current reality questions include; How long have you been thinking about this, How committed to changing this issue are you on a scale of one to ten, and what are your main insights about this issue up to now? Next, quiet leaders get others to explore alternatives. This opens others to new possibilities or solutions. They try to stretch others and get them to think of many ideas without being attached to any one. They ask additional questions such as; what are some possible paths you can take or can you see some different angles we could look at this from? Finally, the quiet leader gets others to tap energy. They help others get more specific, set deadlines and report back. They get others to do something tangible by asking questions such as the following; shall we focus on x and get more detailed, how can I best help you think through how to make this work, how can I best support you to turn this insight into a habit, do you want to take some kind of specific action around this (Rock 2006)?

Quiet leaders know that they need to follow-up in order to help others learn. They do this by gathering facts. They get information about what was done compared to the plan. They remain emotionally neutral and focus on the emotions of others. They ask others how they feel about what they have achieved (Rock 2006).

Quiet leaders encourage others and provide feedback to help them learn. They focus on what others accomplish. They also focus on the formation of good habits not the details. They do not point out politely what others did wrong. Rather, they respectively ask what was learned and let others do the thinking. This builds trust and respect which will make others want to improve (Rock 2006).

Quiet leaders are willing to examine multiple perspectives and believe lessons can be learned from both horizontal and vertical chains of command (Weis 2007). According to John Maxwell, author of “The 360 Degree Leader”, he is always looking for people to bring something to the table in the area of ideas. He also highly values people who are constructive and take an idea that someone else puts on the table and makes it better. These ideas may come from his followers, peers or leaders (Maxwell 2005).

Quiet leaders provoke learning and adaptations through the perspective they bring as people not fully assimilated into a system. As a result, they are more likely to think “out of the box” because they are not fully in the box (Meyerson 2001).

Theme four – Motivation
A quiet leader’s inspiration is calmer, almost spiritual in nature guided by high ideas (Whitehead 2005). For example, when rumors began to circulate that Tony Dungy would be fired he responded by saying, “Worrying about my job is not my responsibility; it’s God’s. My job is to coach (Dungy 2007).” This calmer and spiritual inspiration is inherent in all quiet leaders.

The idea of reaching one’s full potential motivates quiet leaders. They do not settle for less. One should aspire to reach the top of their game – not the top of the organization (Maxwell 2005). According to Dungy, in a speech to his team, he said the following. “We’re not all going to reach the Super Bowl or the top of the corporate ladder, but we each have a chance to walk away from something saying, ‘I did the ordinary things as well as I could. I performed to the full limits of my ability. I achieved success.’ Under that definition, a 5-11 team might actually be more successful than a 14-2 team.”

Quiet leaders are infected with an incurable need to produce results. They have a ferocious resolve and determination to do whatever needs to be done to make the company great (Collins 2001). They lead with purpose, meaning and value (George 2003). Their hearts are engaged with a sense of purpose. Therefore, their work has a deeper purpose. As a result, they’re work exceeds those who use only their mind and body.

Political capital consists of reputations and relationships which quiet leaders understand and value. They are motivated by building reputations and getting results in the right way. They accomplish this by being a team player, through loyalty and by protecting or enhancing reputations and career prospects. In addition, they participate in the network of favors, understandings and small deals which help mold organizations (Badaracco 2002).

Possibly the most important source of motivation for quiet leaders is a wider sense of their own interests. They have sincere interests which include those of the entire group (Whitehead 2005). They use this interest as motivation to succeed. God’s definition of success is really one of significance–the significant difference our lives can make in the lives of others. This significance doesn’t show up in win-loss records, long resumes, or the trophies gathering dust. It’s found in the hearts and lives of those we’ve come across who are in some way better because of the way we lived (Dungy 2007).

Theme five - Negatives
As in many situations, quiet leadership requires balance in one’s thought and the proper use of available tools. As good as they are, the guidelines for quiet leadership are like a two-edged sword. They can become excuses for doing nothing or taking sleazy shortcuts. They need to be understood and examined carefully. For example, bending the rules can be an excuse for avoiding duties, drilling down into situations can evolve into procrastination or cowardice. In addition, some compromise can sell out basic principles and investing in political capital too prudently and escalating too gently can lead to nothing (Badaracco 2002). Without well-balanced and clear thought, quiet leadership can quickly become poor leadership.

Chapter Three – Implications
Based on the limited amount of written material, and based on the negative effects of bold, charismatic and heroic leadership on organizations, the implication is that quiet leadership exists, it is growing in popularity and acceptance, and it is of benefit to organizations and individuals.

The heroic view of leadership touches something deep inside us. The world would be much poorer and harsher without efforts and sacrifices of great (heroic) men and women. Conversely, quiet leadership doesn’t leave a bold mark on history. Quiet leaders work on different scale and none of their efforts will be recorded in history books (Badaracco 2002). Yet, quite leadership is needed today because it is of benefit to today’s knowledge-based workforce and economy.

There is an increasing gap between the way employees are being managed at work and the way they want to be managed. Countless surveys have been done in this area, ending in headlines like, 'Six out of 10 workers are miserable' and '74% of staff not engaged at work’ (Rock 2006). Employees appreciate the opportunities quiet leaders present, such as helping them develop and grow in a manner that suits them.

Although from the outside it may seem slow and ponderous, quiet leadership is often the best way to improve organizations. Although sometimes needed, strong measures and heroism are usually the last resort in dealing with difficult problems. Preparation, caution, care and attention to detail are the best approaches to everyday managerial challenges (Badaracco 2002). Quiet leaders help today’s multifaceted and complex organizations because rather than react to problems, they respond to them. When one reacts to a problem, one acknowledges a narrow slice of the situation such as addressing one’s own feelings. However, when one responds to a problem, one acknowledges the whole situation. A response encompasses the nuances and complexities of situations rather than the first thing that comes to mind with a reaction (Clemens 2008).

Some organizations may not realize they have potentially great leaders among them.
Potential Level 5 leaders are described as quiet, humble and modest and are highly prevalent in society. They are all around us, if we know what to look for. Look for situations where extraordinary results exist but where no individual steps forward to claim excess credit (Collins 2001). They exist at all levels, in all kinds of organizations, persist to varying extents and succeed (Meyerson 2001). Because quiet leaders exist and operate out of the limelight it is important for organizations to recognize, acknowledge and promote successful quiet leaders. In doing so, they will benefit from a different and valuable kind of leader.

Even though quiet leaders exist and are succeeding, people still consider leadership to call for bold and heroic decisions, measures, and character. This preoccupation with heroic leadership has drawbacks. It distorts our understanding of leadership by telling us to think in terms of a pyramid. At the top are heroes and stars; at the bottom are shirkers, free riders, and worse. Most people, most of the time, aren't saving the world or exploiting it. They are living their lives and trying to take care of the people around them. The same is true in organizations: Most of the attention goes to the movers and shakers, the hard chargers, the stars who lead turnarounds or make their numbers no matter what. What about everyone else? Are they just cogs in the wheel? Is the world really divided into inspiring Supermen and feckless Clark Kents (Badaracco 2002)? This may be so now. However, given that quiet leadership and other progressive forms of leadership, such as servant leadership, are becoming more prevalent in today’s organizations, this will become the case less often.

The following is an anomaly in today’s changing organizations. Roger Bergman said voters wishing for a change in style to quiet leadership gave him the hefty margin of victory in Grand Haven’s mayoral election. What they want is more of a quiet leadership; leadership that listens to the people and responds in a quiet way rather than “my way or no way.” Bergman said he wants to be a consensus builder, to broker deals to avoid split votes on controversial issues (Grand Rapids Press).

According to chairman and CEO of Sunbeam, Jerry Levin, "No one of us is smarter than all of us." Teamwork will be critical, and the best leaders will work through teams. Top-down authoritative leadership is dead. Leaders have to set the strategy, including business principles, and let decentralized organizations do their thing with carefully constructed, non-intrusive controls. I am proud to say all of my employees know more than I do about their jobs. When I start thinking I know better, my business is in trouble. I use the 70/30 rule to discipline myself. If I'm talking more than 30 percent of the time during a meeting, I know I'm not listening enough. In an open environment, which is an intended output of the culture we try to create, it is amazing what you can learn by keeping your mouth shut (Levin 2000). Leader shares his or her definition of the problem with the work group. The group then proceeds to diagnose the causes of the problem. Following the diagnosis, the group generates, evaluates, and chooses among solutions.

In addition to the demands and preferences of today’s workforce, quiet leadership is gaining popularity and acceptance due to the negative effects that result from bold, charismatic and heroic leaders. The qualities that make these leaders effective can also harm organizations. Leaders' strategic vision, their communication skills, and their general management skills can adversely affect organizations (Conger 1990).

Unsuccessful strategic visions can often be traced to the inclusion of the leaders' personal aims that did not match their constituents' needs. For example, leaders might substitute personal goals for what should be shared organizational goals. They might construct an organizational vision that is essentially a monument to themselves and therefore something quite different from the actual wishes of their organizations or customers (Conger 1990). Quiet leaders are modest, humble and inclusive and always place organizational needs before their own. For example, Level 5 leaders want to see the company even more successful in the next generation. Whereas, comparison leaders concerned with personal greatness often failed to set the company up for future success (Collins 2001). Chrysler’s poor record after Lee Iacocca is an example here. He became too concerned about books and appearing in commercials and the company soon began to fail after his departure.

Others in organizations, who tend to become dependent on a visionary leader, may perpetuate the problem through their own actions. They may idealize their leader excessively and thus ignore negative aspects and exaggerate the good qualities. As a result, they may carry out their leader's orders unquestioningly -- and leaders may in certain cases encourage such behavior because of their needs to dominate and be admired. The resulting sense of omnipotence encourages denial of market and organizational realities. Their excessive confidence and the desire for heroic recognition encourages them to undertake large, risky ventures -- but because of their over reliance on themselves and their cadre of "yes people," strategic errors go unnoticed. Bold but poorly thought-out strategies will be designed and implemented. The leader's vision, in essence, becomes a vehicle for their need for attention and visibility. (Conger 1990).

Some leaders are gifted at communicating and it is quite easy for them to misuse this ability. For instance, they may present information that makes their visions appear more realistic or more appealing than the visions actually are. They may also use their language skills to screen out problems in the larger environment or to foster an illusion of control when, in reality, things are out of control (Conger 1990). Examples of this include companies such as Enron and Worldcom which destroyed the lives of countless people. If these companies had been led by quiet leaders they may have survived. Organizations are increasingly becoming aware that heroic leaders are not always the best leaders.

Some leaders, particularly charismatic leaders in large organizations, seem to be very poor at managing upwards and sideways. Because they are usually unconventional advocates of radical reform, they may often alienate others in the organization, including their own bosses. The charismatic leader's unconventional actions may trigger the ire of forces within the organization which then act to immobilize him or her. Leaders' aggressive style may also alienate many potential supporters and ultimately leave them without sufficient political support for their ambitious plans (Conger 1990). Quiet leaders expect to work well with and understand the needs of their followers, peers and superiors. In addition, they understand how to build and value political support.

Another concern related with bold, charismatic and heroic leadership is cultivation of a feeling of being "special" among members of their operating units. This practice is often accompanied by a corresponding depreciation of other parts of the corporation. In short, the leader creates an "us versus them" attitude. Although this heightens the motivation of the leader's group, it further alienates other groups that may be important for resources or political support (Conger 1990). Again, a quiet leader’s preference for inclusivity does not permit others to be alienated.

Though it is not always clearly visible, quiet leadership exists and is growing in popularity and acceptance because organizations are realizing the benefits quiet leaders offer such as the quiet leaders in the book "Good to Great".

Chapter Four
Recommendations for further research
The limited amount of literature available about quiet leadership leaves much to be studied and written about this subject. The following are a few areas which, if studied, may yield additional valuable insights into quiet leadership.

Given the competitive work environment and the desire for many to climb the corporate ladder, are quiet leaders seen as pushovers who may become targets of corporate bullies? If so, what can quiet leaders do to prevent a pushover reputation and bullying?

The fact that quiet leadership requires one to ask many questions and intently listen is curious in that there are gender differences regarding communication. Does gender play a role in the degree that one succeeds as a quiet leader? Men use talk as a weapon. The function of the long explanations they use is to command attention, convey information, and insist on agreement. Men tell stories in which they are heroes, often acting alone to overcome great obstacles. On the other hand, women tend to express their desire for community by telling stories about others (Griffin 2006). Generally speaking, the male approach to communication does not meet the criteria of quiet leadership. Therefore, is it more difficult for men to be quiet leaders?

In today’s global economy, leaders work in foreign countries or in the U.S. for foreign companies. Naturally, in this environment, there are cultural differences. According to Hofstede, there are four dimensions to cultural differences. The first dimension is the extent to which societies emphasize individualism or collectivism. The second is power distance in which power can be equally or unequally distributed. The third is uncertainty avoidance, which refers to the extent to which the society feels comfortable with ambiguity and values and encourages risk-taking. The fourth is whether the culture is focused on the quantity of life or the quality of life. That is are they more aggressive, assertive and focused on achievements or do they emphasize interpersonal relationships and sensitivity to the well-being of others (Mello 2006). Are there cultures in which quiet leaders will not succeed? Conversely, are there cultures in which quiet leaders can better succeed?

Globally, there are nine key qualities that research shows people seek in a successful leader. They are; passion, decisiveness, conviction, integrity, adaptability, emotional toughness, emotional resonance, self-knowledge and humility (Quinn 2006). One could consider these nine qualities as indicators as to whether or not quiet leadership may or may not succeed in certain countries?

The emotionalism that goes with passion is more common in America than elsewhere. Europeans see it as a sort of business evangelicalism and are very suspicious of it. Thus, quiet leaders may be more accepted and successful in some European countries than in the U.S..

Decisiveness is common to effective executives in all countries. In this regard, European and Japanese chief executives are the most consensus-oriented, and Chinese and American top executives are more likely to make decisions personally and with their own accountability. Since quiet leaders prefer gathering advice from many sources and prefer not to be the hero, they may be more successful in some European and Japanese organizations than in China or the U.S..

Conviction is common to all. Quiet leaders can put their strong motives and tenacity to good use in almost any country successfully.

Integrity is a complex characteristic very much determined by national cultures. What is honest in one society is not in another, and vice versa. Given that quiet leaders are motivated by higher moral standards, issues on integrity should not be an issue in any country.

Adaptability is a pronounced characteristic of American leadership generally. It is less common and less valued in Asia and Europe. It will be needed everywhere soon enough. Since quiet leaders know there is much to gain and little to lose by listening to a wide range of advice they may be more successful in the U.S. in regard to adaptability.

Emotional toughness is common to all top executives; Americans spend more time trying not to show it. Here too, quiet leaders may be more successful in the U.S., in this regard, because they are restrained and calm. They do not let their emotions rule them.

Emotional resonance, the ability to grasp what motivates others and appeal effectively to it, is most important in the United States and Europe at this point in time. It will become more important in Asia as living standards improve, knowledge workers become more important, professional management gets greater demand, and CEOs have to compete for managerial talent. Motivating and appealing to others are natural traits quiet leaders possess. In this regard, they should be more successful in the U.S. and Europe.

Self-knowledge is important in avoiding the sort of over-reach so common in America; it is less common a virtue in America than in Asia, and is a strength of the Asian executive. Embracing the notion of self-evaluation and self-discipline are hallmarks of quiet leaders. Therefore this characteristic is more highly valued in Asia than in the U.S..

Humility is a very uncommon trait in the American CEO. It is sometimes found in Asia. It is often a trait of the most effective leaders. Since quiet leaders are secure of themselves without having a huge ego, they may have more success in this regard, in Asia.

Generally speaking, using the above global nine key qualities people seek in a leader (if weighted equally), it seems quiet leaders may be slightly more successful in the U.S. and Europe. However, given the many subcultures in the U.S., Europe and Asia, as well as in job sectors, further research is recommended.

Can quiet leaders succeed in any field? Or, are they better suited for certain fields? For example, political and religious leaders are often the most charismatic, after all, their success depends on how many people follow them. But think about more conservative organizations, such as a bank or investment house, is this a place where we would prefer a completely charismatic leader, or a more quiet, leading by example type person? The danger in discussing these leadership styles is that we all tend to compare ourselves to the standards. There's no need to try to make yourself into a charismatic leader if it's not the most natural style for you. On the other hand, if you lead with charisma, don't try to tone it down. So is it true that not all leaders are charismatic? Absolutely. But all leaders share some of the same traits. They simply demonstrate those traits in different ways (Nielson 2008).
Finally, can one be both quiet and charismatic as a leader? Despite their charm and apparent concern, the charismatic leader may well be somewhat more concerned with themselves than anyone else. A typical experience with them is that whilst you are talking with them, it is like being bathed in a warm and pleasant glow, in which they are very convincing. Yet afterwards, as the sunbeam of their attention is moved elsewhere, you may begin to question what they said or even whether they said anything of significance at all. Therefore, the values of the charismatic leader are highly significant. If they are well-intentioned towards others, such as a level 5 leader, they can elevate and transform an entire company. If they are selfish and Machiavellian, they can create cults and effectively rape the minds of the followers ( 2008). Leaders can exhibit traits of both quiet and charismatic leadership. However, like any other two items on a spectrum, there is a point at which one leader is not the other.

Today’s knowledge-based economy is comprised of a workforce that is highly educated and paid to think. The workforce is different than in the past in that it does not want the command-and-control style of leadership associated with bold, brash and charismatic leaders.

Today’s workforce prefers quiet leaders that demonstrate accessibility, ability and attentiveness. They want leaders who are available for employees, leaders that model the skills and know-how that they want workers to acquire. They want leaders who are approachable, that not only initiate regular contact with their staffs, but they also work in and around their teams rather than behind closed doors. They want quiet leaders who make it easy for them to ask questions, suggest ideas and convey information (Stettner 2000).

Quiet leaders earn credibility not just by virtue of their job title, but also by sharing their vision, talent and experience with employees. Yet rather than acting like know-it-alls, they challenge their teams to learn and grow on the job. They say, "Here's what worked for me," not "Here's what I want you to do." Empathy comes naturally to quiet leaders. They understand employees' hopes, fears and concerns. They are active listeners, looking people in the eyes and shutting out external distractions. They show interest by saying, "Tell me more," or simply nodding and allowing shy or reluctant speakers to open up.
Quiet leaders lead without resorting to fist-pumping pep talks. They reinforce the message that they and their employees are "all in the same boat." They collaborate and place themselves on the same level as the work force (Stettner 2000).

Quiet leaders influence others by their disposition, not position. Don Frederiksen describes balance as one of the key attributes of quiet leadership. His vision of balance is multifaceted where balance applies to many elements of life, work and leadership. This includes, for example, the balance of work and personal life, the balance between individual needs and organizational needs, the balance of opinions that needs to occur within teams and the balance required to moderate disagreement. Frederiksen feels that maturity is also part of this vision of balance (Frederiksen 2008).

Lifestyle mentor, author and educator, David B. Bohl, identifies the seven ingredients of maturity as the following. Maturity is the ability to control anger and settle differences without violence or destruction. Maturity is patience. Maturity is the capacity to face unpleasantness and frustration, discomfort and defeat, without complaint or collapse. Maturity is humility. Maturity is the ability to make a decision and follow through. Maturity means dependability and coming through in a crisis. Maturity is the art of living in peace. Employers and organizations undervalue and under appreciate maturity. Maturity as a personal attribute seems difficult to sell. Picture a hiring process where there are two candidates where the only difference between the two is that one candidate exudes energy and charisma and the other maturity and balance. Who gets hired (Frederiksen 2008)? In the future, it may be the quiet leader who gets hired more often due to the dynamics of today’s knowledge-based workforce and economy.

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