Cover image for Leading quietly : an unorthodox guide to doing the right thing
Leading quietly : an unorthodox guide to doing the right thing
Badaracco, Joseph.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boston : Harvard Business School Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
201 pages ; 25 cm
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HD57.7 .B332 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Most of us think of leaders as courageous risk takers, orchestrators of major events. In a word: heroes. Although such figures are inspiring, Joseph Badaracco argues that their larger-than-life accomplishments are not what makes the world work. What does, he says, is the sum of millions of small yet consequential decisions that individuals working far from the limelight make every day. Badaracco calls them "quiet leaders"--people who choose responsible, behind-the-scenes action over public heroism to resolve tough leadership challenges. Quiet leaders don't fit the stereotype of the bold and gutsy leader, and they don't want to. What they want is to do the "right thing"--for their organizations, their coworkers, and themselves--but inconspicuously and without casualties. Drawing from extensive research, Badaracco presents eight practical yet counter-intuitive guidelines for situations in which right and wrong seem like moving targets. Compelling stories illustrate how these "nonheroes" succeed by managing their political capital, buying themselves time, bending the rules, and more. From the executive suite to the office cubicle--Leading Quietly shows how patient, everyday efforts can add up to a better company and a better world.

Author Notes

Joseph L. Badaracco, Jr. is a Professor at Harvard Business School, and the Chair of the M.B.A. Elective Curriculum.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

When we think of great leaders, it's usually the charismatic, globally influential Churchill, Patton, Jack Welch who spring to mind. But as Harvard Business School professor Badaracco (Defining Moments: When Managers Must Choose Between Right and Right) correctly points out, everyday leadership is not so dramatic, and daily leadership decisions are rarely carried out at the top of an organization. Badaracco focuses here is on helping the middle- and senior-level managers who make the ordinary decisions that ultimately determine an organization's success. As he puts it: "What usually matters are careful, thoughtful, small, practical efforts by people working far from the limelight. In short, quiet leadership is what moves and changes the world." Out of a four-year study of these real-life leaders, Badaracco describes eight strategies for making effective leadership decisions in murky situations where the "right" thing is far from obvious. The strategies range from the commonsensical (truly examine the question at hand; don't ignore corporate politics) to the counterintuitive (don't expect to be wholly altruistic and accept that some of your motives are self-interested; try not to make important decisions as quickly as possible). Badaracco presents each principle with a brief introduction, followed by a case study and summary of the lessons to be learned. The sum is a useful checklist middle-level managers can put to work immediately. (Feb. 11) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

The result of a four-year study, Leading Quietly is based on anecdotal case scenarios compiled by the author. Badaracco (Harvard Business School) dispels the myth that today's most effective leaders are charismatic, larger-than-life individuals whose high-profile risk taking results in significant organizational achievement and personal rewards. Instead, the author maintains that effective organizational leadership and subsequent achievement are attributable to the day-to-day decisions and contributions made by numerous managers and associates. Badaracco introduces the concept of quiet leadership by discussing and providing examples of four fundamental guiding principles and how these principles demonstrate the complexity, uncertainty, and challenges of today's business environment. Chapters that follow provide principles, examples, and resources--a tool kit or user's manual in the words of the author--to demonstrate how quiet leaders positively impact their organizations and the people around them through strength of character and personal humility. The concluding chapter advises would-be quiet leaders that the presented principles, if misused, can serve as an excuse not to act in a responsible and responsive manner, or if employed appropriately, can result in significant organizational outcomes. Faculty and graduate students will find this book an excellent adjunct to business ethics, leadership, and human resource management courses, and practitioners will benefit from its insightful advice. M. J. Safferstone Mary Washington College

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 1
1 Don't Kid Yourselfp. 11
2 Trust Mixed Motivesp. 33
3 Buy a Little Timep. 53
4 Invest Wiselyp. 71
5 Drill Downp. 91
6 Bend the Rulesp. 111
7 Nudge, Test, and Escalate Graduallyp. 127
8 Craft a Compromisep. 147
9 Three Quiet Virtuesp. 169
Appendix A Note on Sourcesp. 181
Notesp. 189
Acknowledgmentsp. 193
Indexp. 195
About the Authorp. 201