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Leading Quietly : An Unorthodox Guide to Doing the Right Thing
Joseph L. Badaracco Jr.

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Format: Hardcover, 224pp.
ISBN: 9781578514878
Publisher: Harvard Business School Press
Pub. Date: February 2002

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Item No: 9781578514878

Description and Reviews
From The Publisher:

Most of us think of leaders as courageous risk takers, orchestrators of major events-in a word, heroes. Yet while such figures are inspiring and admirable, Harvard Business School Professor Joseph Badaracco argues that their larger-than-life accomplishments are simply not what makes the world work. What does, he says, is the sum of millions of small yet consequential decisions that men and women working far from the limelight make every day: how a line worker for a pharmaceutical company responds when he discovers a defect in a product's safety seal; how a manager deals with a valued employee suspected of stealing; how a trader handles a transaction error that will cost a client money.

Badaracco calls them "quiet leaders"-people who choose responsible, behind-the-scenes action over public heroism to resolve tough leadership challenges. These individuals 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. They do so by being baldly realistic about the complexities of their own motives and those of the dilemmas they face. In today's fast and fluid business world, nothing is as it seems. And they know it.

Drawing from a four-year study of quiet leadership, Badaracco presents eight practical and counterintuitive guidelines for confronting situations in which right and wrong seem like moving targets. Grounding each strategy in an engaging story, he shows how these "non-heroes" succeed by managing their political capital, buying themselves time, bending the rules, and more.

From leaders in the executive suite to aspiring leaders in the office cubicle, Leading Quietly compellingly shows how patient, everyday efforts can add up to a better company and even a better world.


"Most of us thrill to stories of heroic leaders mounting the barricades on behalf of great causes. Enter now the quiet leaders-unsung men and women who actually keep most of the world going from one day to the next. Badaracco tells their stories with enormous insight and understanding, explaining not only how they succeed but why. For those who must learn how to lead from the middle-and that's nearly everyone-reading this book is a terrific place to start."
—David Gergen, Director, Center for Public Leadership, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

"Rather than seeing the road map for career success as a series of bold and courageous decisions, Badaracco makes the case for a new model of leadership based on thoughtful consideration, practicality, and pragmatism."
—Paul R. Charron, Chairman and CEO, Liz Claiborne, Inc.

"With quiet effectiveness, Badaracco's new brand of leaders take small, careful steps to solve major problems. Leading Quietly lays out what may seem obvious, but is in fact rocket science. This book will change the way you view leaders and perhaps yourself."
—Anne L. Bryant, Executive Director, National School Boards Association and Chairman of the Board, Simmons College

"In this useful and thoughtful book, Badaracco helps us to understand that true leadership isn't grand or heroic. It occurs in small steps by people on the ground who are guided by humility and common sense. Organizations and societies that nurture quiet leaders are bound to be more successful than those that make room only for the strong and loud ones."
—Robert B. Reich, author of The Future of Success, Hexter Professor of Social and Economic Policy at Brandeis University, and former U.S. Secretary of Labor

"The stories of the leaders profiled in Leading Quietly demonstrate how even the most seemingly ordinary decisions are not ordinary at all. Rather, they are laced with complex motives and play out on uneven political terrain that must be navigated carefully and thoughtfully for long-term success."
—Kathy Levinson, Strategic Philanthropy and Investment, and former President and Chief Operating Officer of E*TRADE Group


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About the Author

Joseph L. Badaracco Jr. is a Professor at Harvard Business School, the Chair of the M.B.A. Elective Curriculum, and the author of Defining Moments: When Managers Must Choose between Right and Right

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