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In The Leadership Challenge (2007), Kouzes and Posner describe leaders as ordinary people who are accomplishing extraordinary things by seeing challenging circumstances as opportunities to practice leadership. Through research, surveys, and case studies the authors describe five practices of exemplary leadership, along with ten basic commitments for applying these practices.
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The five practices of exemplary leadership that the authors identify are: (1) Model the Way, (2) Inspire a Shared Vision, (3) Challenge the Process, (4) Enable Others to Act, and (5) Encourage the Heart.
When describing Model the Way, the authors emphasize that exemplary leaders understand that even the word “leader” means to go first. Modeling means going first and living the behaviors you want to see in others. Kouzes and Posner state, “leaders take every opportunity to show others by their own example that they’re deeply committed to the values and aspirations they espouse” (pg. 75). The authors also explain that in order for a leader to Model the Way, the leader must first know what to model.
The authors describe many processes for developing a self-awareness that will allow the leader to identify shared values. This process of self-awareness has also been extensively researched by Robert K. Greenleaf (1970) in his work on Servant Leadership. Greenleaf states that awareness is a disturber and an awakener. In addition, Goleman, Boyatzis, and McKee (2002) identified Self-Awareness as a domain of Emotional Intelligence that is essential for a leader to create resonance in an organization. Bass & Avolio (1994) also discussed the idea of modeling the way when they described transformational leadership in terms of Idealized Influence.
Inspire a Shared Vision is the second practice described by Kouzes and Posner when defining exemplary leadership practices. Inspire a Shared Vision is described as the ability to communicate effectively a shared vision that others take as their own. The authors discuss the need for a leader to be able to envision the future. Exemplary leaders “are able to envision the future, to gaze across the horizon of time and imagine the greater opportunities to come” (pg. 105). Greenleaf (1970) also described the importance of leaders being forward looking in his description of the Servant Leadership characteristic of Foresight. Greenleaf stated that a leader must learn from the lessons of the past in order to plan for the future. In addition, other researchers such as Bass & Avolio (1994) addressed the concept of vision when they described transformational leadership.
The third practice as described by Kouzes and Posner is Challenge the Process. The authors explain that exemplary leaders are adopters of innovation. The authors continue with an explanation of how innovation comes from a leader’s ability to listen and communicate effectively. Again, there is a connection with Greenleaf’s work on Servant Leadership (1970). Greenleaf explains that servant leaders must develop the characteristic of Listening in order to lead and serve effectively. Goleman, et al. (2002) also describes the importance of listening and innovation in the Emotional Intelligence domain of Relationship Management. Kotter’s change process (1996) is also correlated with Challenging the Process as it involves how a leader leads through change.
Enable Others to Act is the fourth practice detailed by the authors of The Leadership Challenge (2007). This practice is described as the ability of the leader to encourage people and help them feel they are able to put their ideas in action. Greenleaf (1970) described an effective leader as a person who helps others grow personally, professionally, and spiritually. In research conducted by Goleman, et al. (2002), the leadership style of Coaching describes a leader who says, “Try this.”
The final practice listed by Kouzes and Posner is Encourage the Heart. People act best when they are passionate about what they are doing. It is the leader’s job to release the energy and enthusiasm in others with the use of stories and other communication techniques. This practice is similar to the leadership style of Affilitative as described by Goleman, et al. (2002).
Are you ready for the challenge of leadership? In order to be a more effective leader, please consider the following:
· Leaders are active learners – one reason leaders are active learners is because they are humble about their own abilities.
· Treat every job as an adventure – approach every new assignment as an opportunity to start over.
· Seize the initiative – guide others through adversity, uncertainty, and hardships.
Barbara Baggerly-Hinojosa is a mother, educator, and wife living in the
Rio Grande Valley in . She is a PhD student with Our Lady of the Texas in Leadership Studies. Mrs. Baggerly-Hinojosa is the President of the Leadership Empowerment Group, LLC and is currently researching the relationship between the leadership of the high school principal and the high school drop out rate. Mrs. Baggerly-Hinojosa is the author of Are You A Ten? The Ten Characteristics of a Servant Leader. For ordering information, please contact Mrs. Baggerly-Hinojosa at Barbara@leadershipempowermentgroup.com or visit Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com Lake University