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Leading Quietly: An Unorthodox Guide to Doing the Right Thing [Hardcover]

Joseph Badaracco
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Feb. 1 2002
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.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

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.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From the Publisher

 Presenting a new approach to leadership and ethics, this alternative guide is about exercising quiet moral authority in everyday situations.  Makes the case that creative, practical approaches to everyday ethical choices are the essence of effective leadership.  Provides a toolkit for quiet leaders, laying out a framework for action with eight counterintuitive strategies for making ethical decisions.  Grounds each strategy in an engaging case study, showing leaders resolving (or failing to resolve) difficult problems.  Includes surprising answers and counterintuitive approaches to “doing the right thing” that include recognizing your own self-interest, buying time, and bending the rules.  Badaracco is a trusted authority on business ethics and leadership.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
QUIET LEADERS ARE REALISTS. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Visibility is Not Leadership Feb. 18 2013
By John M. Ford TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition
Joseph Badaracco reminds us that the best leaders are not highly visible "heroes" who single-handedly set things right with dramatic deeds on center stage. They are restrained, modest and tenacious individuals working quietly in the shadows. If they are ever recognized, like Winston Churchill or Mother Theresa, it is only after many years or decades of quiet striving. We should not only recognize them, but learn to emulate their unassuming style.

Using case studies and clear prose, the author describes the techniques of quiet leadership, advising us to focus on small things that need to be handled every day. Quiet leaders accept that they will be surprised and will need to make decisions without knowing all of the facts. They are able to trust others, but verify information when possible. Quiet leaders are realists, accepting mixed motives in themselves and others. This allows them to find win-win solutions between individuals and organizations with different needs and goals.

Quiet leaders don't rush--or allow themselves to be rushed--into hasty decisions. They try to buy time to dig into the political and technical details and find a better solution. They build up political capital with others over time and "withdraw" this capital to help solve problems--or get extra time to solve them. Quiet leaders carefully consider drawing on this resource before taking on a problem. They may walk away from a problem they do not have the resources to address. They may bend the rules a bit to solve a problem, being careful to adhere to the principles they are based upon. A compromise is preferable to a conflict. If conflict seems necessary, quiet leaders move toward it carefully, escalating gradually, continually testing and trying for a low-key resolution.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Leading Quietly Dec 19 2006
Format:Hardcover
One of the books I read on the weekend was - Leading Quietly - An unorthodox Guide to Doing the Right Thing by Joseph Badaracco.

The book is more about the subtitle "An unorthodox Guide to Doing the Right Thing" than the title - "Leading Quietly". It did make a valid point that often the best leaders are not the loud stars that the press talks about all the time. Often the best leaders are the quiet plodders that create value over a long period of time.

Much of the book talked about making decisions in uncertain circumstances. Much of leadership involves decision making. And most decisions are not clear. The mark of a good leader is one who is willing to make the decisions quickly. Good leaders know when enough information is enough (some people will not make decisions because they want more information even though the probability of that information changing the decision is negligible). As Badaracco says "the courage to prudently tackle tough situations".

Good leader do not balk at making decisions even though there is risk involved. Usually there is greater risk in not making the decision.

Much of good decision making is about identifying the problem and simplifying it. Einstein said "Everything should be as simple as possible and no simpler".

On statement that rang true to me "leadership is hard work". I guess I never really thought about it but at the time I was reading it, I was struggling with many issues and juggling many balls so it hit home. It also talked about tenacity. This is a trait that I try hard to have. When I do not get the answer I want, I try to figure other approaches to make the sale (and most things are sales even if they involve selling internally or selling someone in a negotiation).

Good book.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not a Leadership Book, But Still Insightful Dec 24 2003
Format:Hardcover
Instead of Leading Quietly, this book should have been titled "Manuevering Quietly." It discusses the nuts and bolts of approaching problems without falling on your sword, but I failed to find real leadership principles applied.
For one thing, leaders have followers and many of the case studies involved (roughly half) depicted people who had to solve an ethical problem, yet they did not have anyone following them. The protagonists navigated their way through murky waters, but there weren't taking anyone anywhere. That's why I think "Manuevering Quietly" would have been more appropriate.
And yet, it's an intriguing concept. Who has not stood up for an ethical principle and been punched in the nose, ultimately thwarting any potential influence to be applied down the line? Like Jim Collins and Jerry Porras' Built To Last, Badaracco advises us to not always think in black and white, right and wrong terms, that the sooner we realize every situation has infinite shades of gray, the better off we are to handle the conplexities of our problems.
Many critique this book because they feel it reduced ethics to a worldview of pragmatism, but I think Badaracco emphasizes the importance of character and caring enough to where he's not preaching a nihilistic approach to problem solving. The bottom line is if you're often in a rock and a hard place and the most likely thing to get smushed is you, Leading Quietly can help you get out of the way without compromising your principles. And that's applaudable.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Restraint, Modesty, and Tenacity
I was told that leading quietly is an unorthodox guide to doing the right thing; and indeed there is much grist for the leadership mill buried in this excellent book. Read more
Published on Oct. 19 2003 by Dave Kinnear
1.0 out of 5 stars I guess if you're from Harvard you can write whatever...
This is not a book for leaders. I'm not sure who this book is for. Mr. Badaracco seems to find many of the ordinary human aspects of business startlingly unique, and is pleased... Read more
Published on Aug. 2 2003 by Oh no, Amazon!
2.0 out of 5 stars Leading Quietly
It intially grabs you and provides great insight but I found that as the book went along it lost it's nuggets. Read more
Published on June 28 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books in this genre
Written with a sound emphasis on ethics and procedures, this book is outstanding. Make sure you read all of it.
Published on May 6 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars No quick fixes here...
If you're looking for a peppy guide to lead you into leadership, don't buy this book. The premise of this book is that leadership is not an easy task, leaders don't have easy... Read more
Published on April 30 2003 by Schrade
5.0 out of 5 stars The Importance of "Small and Obscure Deeds"
Jim Collins and his 21 associates committed more than 15,000 hours to rigorous research on the 15-year performance record of 1,435 companies (that had appeared on the Fortune 500... Read more
Published on Feb. 25 2003 by Robert Morris
5.0 out of 5 stars Thankyou To Amazon.com
"Leading Quietly" is the result of a professional five year study on leadership by Joseph Badaracco. Read more
Published on Dec 17 2002 by R. Stockton
1.0 out of 5 stars Very dry and academic with little practical advice
Contains some interesting observation by the author but the book is very academic with very little practicable advice.
Published on Sept. 19 2002
1.0 out of 5 stars Scary Book
I was very disappointed in this effort from a Harvard Business School professor. Not only did I think that this book would deal with the ethics of leadership, I also was expecting... Read more
Published on Sept. 5 2002 by beapositive1
2.0 out of 5 stars Great thought and a tough subject - poorly produced.
I agree with an earlier sentiment, if you're looking for a leadership book, there are other books that will provide you a more emotionally charging read. Read more
Published on Aug. 19 2002 by "thewebtigger"
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