Leading Quietly (by: Joseph Badaracco)

Title: Leading Quietly:  The unorthodox guide to doing the right thing

Reviewer: This summary was completed by Dr. Bev Ziegler, the Athletic Director here at Greece Athena High School

Summary: What do patient, unglamorous everyday efforts add up to? Almost Everything – The vast majority of difficult, important human problems are not solved by a swift decisive stoke of someone at the top. What usually matters are careful, thoughtful, small, practical efforts by people working far from the limelight. Quiet leadership is what moves and changes the world.

Badaracco has over the course of his career spent a great deal of time studying management and leadership. He observed that the most effective leaders are rarely public heroes. They are not high profile champions of causes, and don’t want to be. They don’t spearhead ethical crusades. They instead move patiently, carefully and incrementally. They do what is right for their organizations, for the people around them, and for themselves – inconspicuously and without causalities. He has called them quiet leaders because they are modest and understand that big problems and achievements can only be accomplished by a long series of small efforts. Despite the seemingly slow pace, this type of leadership often turns out to be the quickest way to make an organization and the world a better place. They realize that leadership is a long process, rather than a single dramatic event.

Tools (useful tactics):

  • Restraint – They do not spend time looking for silver bullets, they work hard and squeeze everything they can out of it. Their restraint is active, vigilant, and creative.
  • Modesty – Their goal is simply to do their part to drill down to problems
  • Tenacity – The sense of moral, emotional, and personal urgency accounts for their tenacity. They find ways to bend rules without breaking them or they develop compromises.

Big Take Away: Often the efforts of quiet leaders are not recorded in the history books, yet all of them matter. Their countless efforts, small unseen efforts – quiet leaders make the world a better place.

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