Book Notes: Quiet Leadership - David Rock

William Meller - Quiet Leadership - David Rock
Quiet Leadership provides a brain-based approach with 6 steps that will help busy leaders, executives, and managers improve their own and their colleagues' performance.


Title: Quiet Leadership: Six Steps to Transforming Performance at Work
Author: David Rock
Themes: Leadership, Neuroscience, Team Management, Management, Psychology
Year: 2009
Publisher: Harper Collins
ISBN: 0061750646, 9780061750649
Pages: 288

David Rock has proven, supported by neuroscience, that the secret to leading people (and living and working with them) is found in the space between their ears, "If people are being paid to think," he writes, "isn't it time the business world found out the thing doing the work, the brain, is all about?"

Managers are default programmed to solve problems. That’s what they are paid to do (or at least someone told them that). And that is how they see themselves, at a subconscious level. So, when an employee comes with a problem, the manager starts the solution model, giving ideas and solutions for this problem. The employee walks out with the manager’s solution and the manager feels great.

"... We make the unconscious assumption that the other person’s brain works the same as ours. So we input their problem into our brain, see the connections our brain would make to solve this problem and spit out the solution that would work for us..."

Neuroscience says that everyone’s brain is wired differently and that we live by the various maps we hard-wire in our heads. One of the approaches for quiet leadership is about having better conversations that will improve the way people think, and create new wiring and new maps, but not directly doing or saying that.

"... The role of a team leader is to facilitate the team’s thinking, to help them think more productively and effectively than they would without a leader. However, it has to be the team doing the thinking, not the leader..."

The book evolves through a practical, six-step guide to making permanent workplace performance change by unleashing higher productivity, new levels of morale, and greater job satisfaction. 

William Meller - Quiet Leadership - David Rock

One of the things I liked about this book is that David Rock recommends several question templates that a leader should ask to help their teams think better about how to solve problems, without the leader giving the solution directly to people.

William Meller - Quiet Leadership - David Rock
Image From the Book Quiet Leadership, David Rock

Six Steps to Transforming Performance at Work

STEP 1: Think About Thinking

The first step is to think about thinking and to let people do all the thinking, keep them focused on solutions, stretch their thinking, accentuate the positive, and follow a good process. You purposely avoid the actual problem, listening instead to their assumptions and how they are framing the problem. Direct the conversation away from the fear and toward potential solutions.

STEP 2: Listen for Potential

The second step is to listen for potential and not get too close, it is about listening as if the individual has all the tools and elements to solve his or her problem.

STEP 3: Speak with Intent

The third step is to speak with intent and to be succinct, specific, and generous. When you do offer insight, comments, or suggestions, deliver them in short bites, specific points, and in terms that they will understand.

STEP 4: Dance Toward Insight

Step four is about the conversation: we dance toward insight by getting permission for harder conversations, placing people, so they know where we’re coming from, using thinking questions so that others do the thinking, and then clarifying their responses. The goal is to take the individual from stuck thinking around a concern to new insights and concrete action.

STEP 5: Create New Thinking

Once we know how to dance this way, in step five we create new thinking. We get people to become aware of their mental dilemmas and reflect more deeply on them by asking questions about their current reality. Once they have had an insight, we explore alternatives for how to move their insight into action, then we tap into the energy given off by the new connections being made. 

STEP 6: Follow Up

Finally, we know that following up can make a big difference to the emergence of new wiring, so we focus on the facts and people’s feelings. We encourage, listen for learning, look for implications, and then look for the next goal to focus on. 

Chapters of the Book:

Part I
  Recent Discoveries About the Brain That Change Everything
  The Brain Is a Connection Machine
  Up Close, No Two Brains Are Alike
  The Brain Hardwires Everything It Can
  Our Hard Wiring Drives Automatic Perception
  It’s Practically Impossible to Deconstruct Our Wiring
  It’s Easy to Create New Wiring
  Summarizing the Recent Discoveries About the Brain

Part II
  The Six Steps to Transforming Performance
  About the Six Steps

  STEP 1: Think About Thinking
    Let Them Do All the Thinking
    Focus on Solutions
    Remember to Stretch
    Accentuate the Positive
    Put Process Before Content

  STEP 2: Listen for Potential
    A New Way to Listen
    The Clarity of Distance

  STEP 3: Speak with Intent
    Be Succinct
    Be Specific
    Be Generous
    A Word on Digital Communications

  STEP 4: Dance Toward Insight
    The Four Faces of Insight
    The Dance of Insight
    Putting Permission, Placement, and Questioning Together
    Putting the Dance Together

  STEP 5: Create New Thinking
    Current Reality
    Explore Alternatives
    Tap Their Energy
    Putting the CREATE Model Together

  STEP 6: Follow Up
    New Goal
    A Summary of the Six Steps

Part III
  Putting the Six Steps to Use 
  Using the Six Steps to Help Someone Solve a Problem
  Using the Six Steps to Help Someone Make a Decision
  Using the Six Steps to Give Feedback
  Giving Feedback for Great Performance
  Giving Feedback for Below-Par Performance
  Giving Feedback for Poor Performance
  Using the Six Steps with Teams
  Using the Six Steps with Children
  Applying the Six Steps to a Whole Organization
  In Conclusion

David Rock coined the term neuroleadership, is the Co-founder and CEO of the NeuroLeadership Institute (NLI) and has authored four successful books including Your Brain at Work, a business best-seller.

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