Silent leadership

April 21 2017
Executive Education INCAE

Running an organization represents many responsibilities, as well as making decisions that affect, positively or negatively, the company. The leadership they exercise is essential and there is a type, called silent, which is often effective in solving a serious problem.

Making compromises that seem dubious are part of that silent leadership that will resolve the problem without causing unfair harm to any of the parties.

Receiving opposition that prevents the objectives from being achieved is part of being the boss or leader of a company or organization and for this the best solutions must be found, analyzing the case, without rushing to make a determination.

To explain in a conceptual way what silent leadership means, we will take two examples of two cases that occurred, both different, in different companies.

The first is that of Rebeca Olson, appointed chief executive of a hospital in Nebraska, United States. Upon assuming the position, he ran into a problem that arose with the Vice President of Operations, Ricardo Millar, accused by an employee of discrimination and sexual harassment.

In addition to the accusation, the hospital was going to be affected in its reputation and if the harassment was proven, a fine would come to the institution and the victim would also file a millionaire claim against the hospital.

Firing the vice president would have been the easy way to nip the problem in the bud, but the chief executive initiated the investigation of the case, and made the decision to try to get Millar to resign.

Before doing so, he worked on an investigation report, met with attorneys, prepared a settlement package, and presented it to the board of directors for clearance.

After two months, he called the vice president to a meeting, put the letters on the table, asked for his resignation and obtained it, informing about the departure of Millas for personal reasons and thanking the years of work in the institution.

He applied modesty and humility to deal with a serious problem and avoided greater damage to the institution he led.

The other example is that of Celso Arango, appointed academic director of a project that was to develop two master's programs at a South American university. Celso was the head of the consulting team at a prestigious North American university in charge of the academic design of the two programs.

Arango would work with a local university counterpart, Antonio Ortiz, and together they would be in charge of directing the project. Antonio was a senior academic officer at the university and had been in charge of designing and running various master's programs for the university.

Ortiz would only be in charge of the administrative and logistical support to the Arango team, but from the beginning of the project he wanted to have interference in the academic development, so he was included in the team and in a short time presented complete proposals, which to Celso's team They would take months, indicating that this was done in a week or less.

Celso discovered that the master's degree designs had been copied from other universities and after a time when the difficulties of working together increased, he decided to report to the rector of the university informing that if Antonio continued with the project, he and his team would withdraw.

Antonio was withdrawn from the project and from the university by order of the rector, but months later the project did not have the internal support of high-level university officials, who saw him as something strange and threatening, taking as an example the situation of Antonio, so they finally withdrew their support for the project.

Two situations that were resolved in a different way and that gave, as expected, a different result. Celso's radical leader decision led to the failure of the entire action plan, while Rebeca analyzed the situation with a cool head, finding the best solution for everyone, victim, accused and institution.

Excerpt from the article “Silent Leadership”, published in INCAE Business Review magazine, by Professor Julio Sergio Ramírez, member of the Faculty of the Management Development Program - MDP.


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