The Moments Of Quiet Leadership

Quiet leadership. Like me, when you see this phrase you think of doing things behind the scenes with little or no fanfare, maybe even in secret. Do you engage in quiet leadership? When is it the right time to do so? When is it the absolute wrong time? What does your attitude toward quiet leadership suggest about your nature as a leader?

These questions came to my mind when writing a recent book review. The book was about the Puritans in 17th century Massachusetts (see elsewhere on my website, the section entitled On My Library Bookshelf, the entry for The Wordy Shipmates). Let me describe the circumstance.

Roger Williams was a Puritan leader in southern New England who often clashed with his fellow leaders. For various reasons, they determined that he should be arrested and sent back to England for punishment. Williams learned of the decision and left Massachusetts on his own. Eventually, he founded part of what would later become Rhode Island.

Here’s the kicker: one of those Puritan leaders, a leader with immense prestige and stature, John Winthrop, secretly informed Williams of the group’s decision to arrest him. He sent a private note to Williams. It’s about as quiet a form of leadership as you can get.

Why would Winthrop engage in quiet leadership in this instance? Would you have done the same thing? What are the key steps in quiet leadership?

Very interesting questions, in my view. Quiet leadership–I may have more to say on this…quietly, of course.