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Friendly Leadership (review)

Stanford Searl
On Conflict (January 2023)
Friendly Leadership
by Donn Weinholtz
reviewed by Stanford Searl

Donn Weinholtz’s practical new book, Friendly Leadership: Humanely Influencing Others, connects Quaker values with research on how organizations function (or don’t). In it, Weinholtz shows ways for Friends to bring their Quaker spiritual practices into the secular mix as well as in service to their Quaker meetings.

The book starts with an epigraph from Robert Greenleaf’s 2002 Servant Leadership: “The servant-leader . . . wants to serve, to serve first, as opposed to wanting power, influence, fame, or wealth.” In its Introduction, the book goes on to list Greenleaf’s ten core skills of servant leadership, including the complex, critical skills of listening, empathy, healing, and stewardship. The subsequent five chapters focus on other dimensions of organizational studies, such as communication skills, group dynamics, and leadership theories.

I appreciated the pithy epigraphs for each chapter, such as Kurt Lewin’s observation at the opening of Chapter 3: “There is nothing so practical as a good theory.” This quotation, reflecting the integration of practice and theory, reflects much of the overall approach of this book.

Weinholtz offers multiple ways to bring Quaker organizational approaches into secular life. Additionally, he provides an extensive resource list of web sites and other references for further reading about Friendly leadership and organizations.

I did struggle with the modified outline format that Weinhotz uses in this book – with, for example, his use of “bullet points” when presenting the ten core skills of servant leadership. Yet, if I stopped and paid attention, I felt rewarded. Within this outline format, I discovered important details. For example, “Listening also encompasses . . . seeking to understand what one’s body, spirit, and mind are communicating” And this, “Foresight . . . is deeply rooted in the intuitive mind.”

I found that if I read this book with a prepared and open heart, then the outline format spoke to my needs for clarity, communication, and even transformation. Thank you, Donn Weinholtz, for communicating.

Stanford Searl is a member of Santa Monica Friends Meeting (PacYM).


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