Kouzes and Posner (2012) discuss results of a study conducted on effective leadership in The Leadership Challenge. In this study, it is revealed that there are five practices of exemplary leadership. These practices find that exemplary leaders model the way, inspire a shared vision, challenge the process, enable others to act, and encourage the heart. In order to illustrate these practices various real life case studies are included.
Overview and Summary
Before explaining these practices in detail, the authors laid out two important laws of leadership that are the foundation for the five practices to be successful. This first law states that subordinates must believe in their messenger in order to believe the message being conveyed. This law summarizes the concept that people tend desire to work for leaders who exhibit a high degree of credibility. The second law states that leaders must “DWYSYWD—Do What You Say You Will Do” (p. 40). Following this law grants leaders the moral authority to lead their organizations.
The first practice referred to as model the way, according to the authors, encompass two factors (p. 42). The first factor is clarifying values and the second is setting the example. Clarifying values includes two key elements which are finding your voice and affirming shared values. Finding your voice is refers to the leader being able to communicate his or her leadership philosophy while affirming shared values centers around “building alignments around values that everyone can share” (p. 57). The second factor to “model the way” is setting the example. Setting the example starts with living out the shared values and ends with teaching others to model the values. Leaders are their “organizations’ ambassadors of shared values” (p.75). In every way possible the leader must model and reinforce the shared values of the organization.
The second of the five practices is the ability to inspire a shared vision. This practice involves both, the ability to envision the future and the ability to enlist others. In order for a leader to have the ability to envision the future he or she must be able to imagine possibilities. According to this study, a forward thinking leader is the second most admired quality of a leader (p. 105). However, not only must the leader be able to cast his or her vision, but in order to make this a shared vision he or she must be able to communicate their followers dreams. This is key to gaining the ability to enlist others in the shared vision. A leader is able to ignite the organization around common ideals for the future. The last element to enlisting people is to be passionate about the goal. A leader must recognize that “ enthusiasm and expressiveness are among your two strongest allies” (p. 141).
The third of the five practices is challenging the process (p. 156). No leader ever achieves greatness by simply accepting the status quo. Instead, a leader must search for new opportunities...