The Power of Quiet Leadership

The Power of Quiet Leadership

We come into our work lives with notions about leadership. We experience being led all our lives – by parents, teachers, coaches, etc. – and from these experiences we draw conclusions about what a leader does or does not do. Of course, not all of our experiences as followers are positive, so, in some cases, our notions may be formed based on those more negative experiences, Regardless of how we get them, we have ideas about what a leader should look like. Often our image of a good leader is of someone who commands a room, speaks authoritatively and is comfortable delivering speeches in front of groups small and large. Some leaders are like that. There are plenty of great leaders, however, who are not that “in-the-front-of-the-room, larger-than-life” persona. There are effective leaders who are unobtrusive, speak thoughtfully and are more comfortable in small groups than large ones. I had a colleague who was very well respected and quite effective in her role at a Director level. She was a reserved, thoughtful person who hired great people and was not threatened by them. She listened intently to everyone and was a bit cautious in her approach but flexible. Nearly everyone

Read more

Judged by the Success of Others

Ben Zander, conductor of the Boston Philharmonic, tells the story of having an epiphany in the mid-point of his career. He says it suddenly occurred to him that “the conductor of an orchestra doesn’t make a sound. He depends for his power on his ability to awaken possibilities in others.” That is the essence of a critical truth of leadership: The success of those who report to you is now the litmus test of your success.You are not a leader if not one follows you. You are not a successful leader if those who follow you are ineffective. I have never really understood the tendency some managers have to chronically complain about the performance of a direct report without realizing that chronic underperformance is as much a comment on the success of that manager as it is about the staff person. Just as you are not a perfectly developed and self-actualized human, neither are those who work for you. They need to be guided and developed, which is why they have you. So to respond to their areas of weakness or needed growth with passive complaint makes no sense. The development of your staff is a full-time job. It ranks

Read more

Keep It Simple

Have you ever wanted to improve something at your office only to give up on it because it was too much hassle? Have you ever tried to collaborate on a project but found that it was not worth the time and effort? Have you ever listened intently to a colleague who sounded really smart only to realize you have no idea what she is saying? Most of us can answer “yes” to all of those questions. Let’s face it. We have a propensity to make things overly complicated at work and it is exhausting. In fairness, of course, plenty of work situations are complicated. And even when a problem is not complex in and of itself, the involvement of many parties creates complication. As leaders, we have to meet that challenge effectively. One skill that sets truly effective leaders apart from average ones is that the most effective leaders can understand the complexity of a situation but address it and communicate about it in a way that is simple and straight forward. I have had a few coaching clients who needed to learn this skill. These folks had plenty to offer their teams and organizations, but they frustrated colleagues who were often

Read more