New York Times RePost: Not leadership material? Good. The world needs followers.

 If college admissions offices show us whom and what we value, then we seem to think that the ideal society is composed of Type A’s. This is perhaps unsurprising, even if these examples come from highly competitive institutions. It’s part of the American DNA to celebrate those who rise above the crowd. And in recent decades, the meteoric path to leadership of youthful garage- and dorm-dwellers, from Steve Jobs to Mark Zuckerberg, has made king of the hill status seem possible for every 19-year-old. So now we have high school students vying to be president of as many clubs as they can. It’s no longer enough to be a member of the student council; now you have to run the school.

Yet a well-functioning student body — not to mention polity — also needs followers. It needs team players. And it needs those who go their own way.

Susan Cain, the author of “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking,” makes the case  in this post to truly recognize and value the Type B’s, team players, and lone wolves among us that keep the world turning. Is ‘leadership potential’ the be-all, end-all of a valuable employee? Nice though it is to have, no.

So here’s to those that follow the leaders with quiet competence, and to those that blaze a solitary trail. Here’s to Cello #3 in the 3rd row; the orchestra just wouldn’t be the same without you.

Accountability and Media Featured

TEDx ReBlog: What great leadership and music have in common


Music is all-consuming. Our reaction to a great song can be so visceral that we are forever connected to it. Hearing that song can bring you back to a moment in time, and often, it binds you to a person too; every time you hear it, you are there with them again, reliving a wonderful moment. This is something every leader aspires to do with those around them as well: to inspire and move people like great music does.

In 1996, I watched a concert with singers from around the world, including Zucchero and Pavarotti. I was amazed by the performers — but beyond that, I was enthralled by the leadership lessons embedded in the music…

Jim Crupi, a management consultant, shares some interesting parallels between music and leadership in this TEDx post. Read more here.

Accountability and Media Featured

How to: Be a quiet leader

Ian Green examines the difference between being a boss and being a leader, and how choosing to be a leader changes how we interact with those we work with and can lead to more employee engagement and improved workplace performance.

Today’s topic is leadership. More specifically, what you can do to become a better leader.  I was inspired to write this post after reading Quiet Leadership: Six Steps to Transforming Performance at Work by David Rock.

What makes a good leader?  In my opinion, they inspire you to achieve more.  Bosses tell you what to do, but as David Rock explains, leaders help you how to think.  They are someone you go to when you need an insight.  Someone you want to follow. Not someone who micromanages your every move.  Below is a great illustration of this concept.

leadership vs management


To become a better leader, you need to make sure you are focused in the right areas.  An age-old proverb tells us that if we give someone a fish, they will eat for a day.  But if we teach someone to fish they will eat for a lifetime.  Leaders need to adopt this perspective.

Telling someone what to do is just like giving someone a fish.  It may help them in the short-term, but it does not advance their skills.  It is also time-consuming for the leader. To be a great leader you must teach people how to think and come to their own conclusions. In other words, teach them how to fish.

David Rock illustrates this point in his book Quiet Leadership: “Quiet Leaders are masters at bringing out the best performance in others.  They improve their employees’ thinking—literally improving the way their brains process information—without telling anyone what to do.  Given how many people in today’s companies are being paid to think, improving thinking is one of the fastest ways to improve performance.”

The argument is rather simple: to improve performance we need to improve how people think and process information. Leaders ask probing questions more often than giving detailed instructions. They help guide people to conclusions rather than telling them.

David uses a number of academic studies to make his point that people who develop their own conclusions are more likely to retain that information (and high performance) than those who were told what the conclusions were. Leaders can help guide their staff to these conclusions by using a number of techniques. One of the primary techniques is listening.

Really listen during the next conversation you have with a colleague.  Think about what they are asking you and why they are facing a roadblock.  Ask yourself what struggles they are facing and how you can help guide them past the issue to a solution.  Many times the individual needs to process the information verbally and a few questions will help them resolve the issue they are facing.  Ask questions rather than give direction.  That will help them discover the answer themselves.

Another great point that David brings up is how to improve performance of people who are struggling. When facing a colleague with performance problems, rather than focusing on the problem, try something new. Try to develop a new habit for the individual that will help them succeed.  Studies have proven that it is easier to develop new habits than to change bad habits. By changing their focus away from what was done wrong to what they need to do right, you are more likely to see lasting changes and better performance.

I encourage you to go to your library or favorite book store to read more about Quiet Leadership. There many great concepts and ideas you can adopt to become a better leader.

If you are a State of Oregon employee, you can access this book, free of charge, from safaribooks. Read more about this service and how to register on the Oregon State Library website:

Ian Green, CGAP and OAD Senior Auditor

Ian Green, CGAP and OAD Senior Auditor

*Author attempted to contact David Rock for approval to use materials from his book, but received no response. Author’s limited noncommercial use of copyrighted material from Quiet Leadership was done under the fair use exemption:
Featured How To Noteworthy

Oregon Leadership

ALGA President-Elect David Givans

David Givans

Several auditors here in Oregon deserve recognition. The Association of Local Government Auditors elected David Givans to be their President-elect, and in a year he will be the President of the 2,000-member organization. David is the Deschutes County Auditor.

ALGA Board Member

Alexandra Fercak

ALGA Treasurer Kristine Adams-Wannberg

Kristine Adams-Wannberg

In addition, Kristine Adams-Wannberg was elected to be the Treasurer, and Alexandra Fercak was elected as an At-Large Board member. Kristine and Alexandra both work in the City of Portland Audits Division.

This speaks highly to the leadership and professionalism of these three auditors, and to the pool of talent here in Oregon. Congratulations to you all!

Auditors at Work