Critique on the Book
The Leadership Challenge
The Leadership Challenge
The Leadership Challenge by Kouzes and Posner (2007) is the result of twenty years of research on the factors that influence and create great leadership. Through studies and stories from leaders with various backgrounds throughout the world, the practices and characteristics that create great leadership are delineated. Leadership is viewed not as a group of inherent characteristics, but as learned behavior that anyone can achieve. The goal of Kouzes and Posner’s book is to inspire and educate leaders through transformational leadership. As such, leadership is about mobilizing others to become and do extraordinary things.
Leadership is mobilizing people through the use of five practices, that of modeling the way, inspiring the group vision, challenging the process, enabling others to achieve, and encouraging the emotions of others. Additionally, leadership is based upon credibility which includes the integrity of the leader and the trust of those following. This credibility will be influenced by a leader’s honesty, vision, ability to inspire, and competence or ability to succeed.
The first of the five principles of leadership is modeling. This is defined by Kouzes and Posner (2007) as doing what you say and doing it first. This involves personally clarifying the values and priorities for the organization, and then sharing, teaching, and modeling those values to others. In leadership, the first step is always to fully understand your vision and become personally transformed and inspired by it.
The second principle involves the leader’s vision for the organization. This vision must be exciting, ennobling, and shared by the group. The leader’s role is to discover the potential and the dreams of the followers, and then inspire them to follow and achieve these dreams. The importance of “appealing to shared aspirations” (2007, p. 26) instead of forcing the vision of the leader on the followers is paramount to enlisting them in this endeavor. Intrinsic motivation is achieved when leaders capture the collective imagination of their followers.
Third, a leader must proactively seek challenges and solutions. Leaders must view themselves as self-efficacious and able to change the status quo. Their passionate belief in their ability to change things will inspire others to join them in making a difference. This will give everyone involved in this process a feeling of meaning and purpose. Leaders must also be continuously aware of their environment and the factors outside of their organization that may impact them. This ability to exercise outsight will make a leader innovative and others-oriented.
Great leadership overcomes the status quo by taking risks. However, it slowly moves the group through a series of small steps designed by the leader to encourage participation and build feelings of success. To continually inspire...