Leading Quietly

By Joseph Badaracco

2002, Harvard Business Press, hardcover, 224 pages

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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 counterintuitive 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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