In Brief: Friendly Leadership: Humanely Influencing Others

By Donn Weinholtz. Full Media Services, 2021. 88 pages. $9.95/paperback or eBook.

Donn Weinholtz is a Quaker who drew upon Friends’ testimonies and years of leadership experience to write this book. Weinholtz is an emeritus professor of educational leadership at the University of Hartford in Connecticut and also has served as co-clerk of Friends Association of Higher Education (FAHE). He coedited the book Quaker Perspectives in Higher Education and founded Quaker Higher Education, FAHE’s journal.

Friendly Leadership is substantial in its wisdom and features brief stories and ideas for “humanely influencing others to seek positive, mutually rewarding outcomes.” In the slim volume, Weinholtz offers an overview of servant leadership and concisely advises readers how to make their groups more welcoming to diverse members. The author discusses some common examples of how leaders’ implicit bias results in undervaluing committee members and suggests ways that heads of small groups can convey respect. The author shares an instance in which a fellow group member confronted him about a microaggression and details the dialogue through which the pair resolved the issue.

The book introduces readers to classic leadership advice, including facilitating group processes that increase members’ fondness for each other and enable all participants to contribute and feel heard. It also offers an overview of psychologist Bruce Tuckman’s stages of group dynamics: forming, storming, norming, performing, and mourning. Knowing the common progression of a small group’s life can help leaders facilitate positive interactions at each stage.

Weinholtz also guides leaders in identifying the stakeholders in ethical dilemmas, discerning which moral concerns are one’s responsibility, and exploring resolutions. The book offers a case study of a meeting’s restorative justice response to neighbors who vandalized the meetinghouse.

Friends new to leadership theory as well as those looking to sharpen their skills would find this book informative, clear, and easy to read. Also included is an appendix on managing meetings over Zoom.

Kathleen Jenkins is the book review editor for Friends Journal. Sharlee DiMenichi is a staff writer for Friends Journal.

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