‘The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations’ by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner is a 25-year old masterpiece on the practice of leadership. This book has been translated to over twenty languages and has sold more than two million copies worldwide to emerge as one of the premier sources of leadership material. The success of this book has catapulted its authors, Jim Kouzes (fellow of leadership at Santa Clara University and chairman and chief executive of TPG Learning Systems) and Barry Posner (former dean and professor of leadership at Santa Clara University) into the upper echelons of leadership gurus who travel around the world conducting leadership development programs and keynoting at leadership conferences around the world.
Kouzes and Posner challenge one of the most widespread myths regarding leadership: the notion that leaders have a fundamentally distinctive task from the people they supervise. Kouzes and Posner explain that leadership is all about influence and that effective leadership hinges on the credibility of a leader. Through effective anecdotes, the authors explain that talented successful leaders use influence and not power to pursue their goals.
Using inspiring anecdotes, learning from successful leaders, and evidence from wide-ranging research, “The Leadership Challenge” demonstrates that when people come to recognize that leadership is an active relationship and then engage in certain constructive behaviors, they can effectively achieve their own personal best, transform their organizations, and convert their followers into leaders. The leadership behaviors are divided into five themes that are comprehensible, realistic, and can be put into practice by anybody interested in increasing their influence in their organizations.
- Model the Way. Know your values, but also affirm the shared values of the group. Set the example by aligning actions with shared values.
- Inspire a Shared Vision. Envision the future by imagining exciting and ennobling possibilities. Enlist others in a common vision by appealing to shared aspirations.
- Challenge the Process. Search for opportunities by seizing the initiative and by looking outward for innovative ways to improve. Constantly generate small wins and learn from experience.
- Enable Others to Act. Foster collaboration. Strengthen others by increasing self-determination and developing competence.
- Encourage the Heart. Recognize contributions by showing appreciation for individual excellence. Celebrate the values and victories by creating a spirit of community.
‘The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations’ is an outstanding course in personal and professional growth and offers lessons that can form the bases for grow our influence and credibility, and thus form a operative foundation from which to lead.