Have you ever heard the phrase “quiet leaders”? This is a leadership style whose description may seem much more familiar than its name.  Quiet leaders can be described as “managers who apply modesty, restraint, and tenacity to solve particularly difficult problems.” (Lagace, M.) 

Badaracco (2003) explains, “Everyday work life is full of right-versus-right decisions. In fact, it sometimes seems that these hard trade-offs are delegated downward from bosses to people in the middle of organizations. In these cases, it does little good to tell people to screw up their courage and do the right thing. The essence of the problem is that several right things—obligations to owners, employees, communities and one’s own values—are clashing with each other. Quiet leaders also recognize the full complexity and uncertainty that govern so much of life and work today.”  He goes on to offer five basic guidelines for quiet leaders: 

Five Basic Guidelines 

  1. Don’t Kid Yourself – “…make plenty of room for the unexpected.” 
  2. Have Some Skin in the Game – “…look for ways to channel self-interest in ways that also serve others.”  
  3. Buy Time – “Time gives people a chance to assess their real obligations and gives sound instincts a chance to emerge.” 
  4. Drill Down – “…into the full complexities of the problem…” 
  5. Bend the Rules and Look for Compromises – “Responsible behaviour in some difficult situations requires a little wiggle room.” 

How does the concept of the quiet leader spark your thoughts about leadership?  Is this a style that describes you or a leader you work with?  Is it a style you find appealing? 

Taking a moment to explore different or unfamiliar leadership styles can be a great way to learn and grow as a leader. It can also be a way to reenergize a leadership journey.

If you would like guidance on how to become a quiet leader, get in touch with us here.

It started with the Great Resignation, shifted into the Great Reshuffle and now it is shaping up to be the Great Regret.

One thing that is clear from this ever-changing picture is that the workforce is more restless than it has ever been. But is this employee upheaval a symptom of something bigger? And if so, how do organizations turn this into an opportunity for improvement?

The pandemic was a time of uncertainty for all. The harmony of the working world was disrupted, and companies had to adapt swiftly in order to stay afloat – and so did their people. Now, as we emerge on the other side of COVID-19, the switch from office to remote work was not the only change that lingered.

This strange and unsettling time also saw the birth of a ‘carpe diem’ complex. People lost so much time because of lockdown that, upon re-entering society, they did not want to feel they were wasting any more, and this created mayhem in many workplaces.

Put simply, an employee with a post-pandemic ‘seize the day’ mindset has no desire to stay in a job that they do not enjoy. This was clearly demonstrated by the Pew Research Centre who discovered that the top three reasons why Americans quit their jobs last year were low pay (63%), a lack of opportunities for advancement (63%) and feeling disrespected (57%).

This is where the ‘something bigger’ comes into play: the mindset of the workforce is changing.

People want more, they want better, and they are now motivated seek it out. The Great Resignation and the Great Reshuffle had been bubbling under the surface for a long time – the pandemic simply acted as the catalyst to bring this to the boil.

Recognizing why staff are resigning and reshuffling will allow organizations to take control of this issue and flip it into an opportunity. So, what can leaders do to respond to this change?

Research(1) has shown that employees will stay in their jobs if they can find meaning and reward in what they do, with six ‘stay factors’ reducing employee turnover:

  • Exciting, challenging, or meaningful work
  • Supportive management
  • Being recognized and valued
  • Opportunities for personal and career development
  • Flexible working environment
  • Fair pay

At a time of economic uncertainty and pressure, it is worth noting that five out of six of these factors can be enhanced for employees at no or low cost to the organization.

Rather, by supporting and encouraging front-line leaders to get to know their teams better and to understand how they can help to make their jobs more meaningful, stimulating, and rewarding, the organization will be able to create a work environment that will rekindle the energy and enthusiasm of its people. That will shift Regret to Rebirth.

The world is changing, and the needs of the workforce are changing too. In order to successfully retain talent, leaders need to be willing to shake things up, and this is where we can help. For advice and guidance on how to approach these topics, you can get in contact with me at amanda@orgshakers.com

 

(1) Ann, K., Hidi, S. (2019) Supporting the development of interest in the workplace. Workforce readiness and the future of work. Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, New York

Looking back, I can’t remember a time when my parents weren’t leading.  Sometimes they led small teams of 5-10, sometimes groups in the thousands.  They were leaders at local, national, and international levels. While they were both leaders in their careers, they also led in many volunteer roles.  Socially gifted, my parents’ ability to connect with people and bring them together was awe-inspiring.

Meanwhile, I was extremely shy and struggled to be in the same room with someone I didn’t know.  This was okay as a small child.  As I grew older, it was expected I would lead – just like my parents.

By the time I started school, I learned that no matter my personal preference, someone would call on me to lead.  More importantly, it was expected that I would always accept the leadership role.  As awkward and uncomfortable as I often felt, each new role built my knowledge, skill sets, and confidence. Today, I am a mixture of experienced leader, shy child, and leadership student.

My parents often reminded my siblings and me that the ability to work with people was more important than any personal gift we might have, like musical ability, intelligence, or physical agility. They constantly encouraged us to exercise our social “muscles” and often taught us through stories. To this day, I rely on their stories to help guide me through new or challenging situations.

Abraham Lincoln as a storyteller

 

Character is like a tree and reputation its shadow. 

The shadow is what we think it is and the tree is the real thing.

Abraham Lincoln

 

Abraham Lincoln is often recognized as one of the most effective and influential leaders in history.  He was also known for his ability to lead through storytelling.  A number of his stories are captured in Donald T. Phillips’ book, “Lincoln on Leadership.”

The underlying theme of Abraham Lincoln’s leadership stories is a focus on individuals, relationships, and compassion.  In his book, Phillips states, “the foundation of Abraham Lincoln’s leadership style was an unshakable commitment to the rights of the individual.”  Fast Company author Mark C. Crowley underscores the importance of Lincoln’s understanding that, “Engagement and performance are mostly influenced by feelings and emotions.”

Whatever you are, be a good one.

Abraham Lincoln

 

Storytelling is an integral part of human learning and connection.  Intentional storytelling can be one of the most effective and formative tools in a leader’s tool kit.

Think back to a personal leadership learning moment with a strong connection to your development journey.  Chances are, there is a story that goes with the moment.

What stories would be included in a book about your leadership?  Is there a theme or main message your stories contain?  Is it the story you intended to tell?

What are the stories that guide you or that you use when guiding others? How will you use intentional storytelling in your leadership journey?

 

Want to dig a little deeper?
Consider:

 

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