The most trusted source of leadership wisdom, updated to address today's realities
The Leadership Challenge is the gold-standard manual for effective leadership, grounded in research and written by the premier authorities in the field. With deep insight into the complex interpersonal dynamics of the workplace, this book positions leadership both as a skill to be learned, and as a relationship that must be nurtured to reach its full potential. This new sixth edition has been revised to address current challenges, and includes more international examples and a laser focus on business issues; you'll learn how extraordinary leaders accomplish extraordinary things, and how to develop your leadership skills and style to deliver quality results every time. Engaging stories delve into the fundamental roles that great leaders fulfill, and simple frameworks provide a primer for those who seek continuous improvement; by internalizing key insights and putting concepts into action, you'll become a more effective, more impactful leader.
A good leader gets things done; a great leader aspires, inspires, and achieves more. This book highlights the differences between good and great, and shows you how to bridge the chasm between getting things done and making things happen.
* Gain deep insight into leadership's critical role in organizational health
* Navigate the shift toward team-oriented work relationships
* Motivate and inspire to break through the pervasive new cynicism
* Leverage the electronic global village to deliver better results
Business is evolving at an increasingly rapid rate, and leaders must keep pace with the changes or risk stagnation. People work differently, are motivated differently, and have different expectations today--business as usual is quickly losing its effectiveness. The Leadership Challenge helps you stay current, relevant, and effective in the modern workplace.
JAMES M. KOUZES is the Dean's Executive Fellow of Leadership, Leavey School of Business at Santa Clara University, and lectures on leadership around the world to corporations, governments, and nonprofits.
BARRY Z. POSNER is Accolti Professor of Leadership and former Dean of the Leavey School of Business, Santa Clara University. An accomplished scholar, he also provides leadership workshops and seminars worldwide.
Kouzes and Posner are the authors of Learning Leadership, Credibility, The Truth About Leadership, A Leader's Legacy, Encouraging the Heart, and The Student Leadership Challenge, among many other works. They also developed the highly-acclaimed Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI)¯®.
Visit www.leadershipchallenge.com to learn more.
Credibility Is the Foundation of Leadership
The inescapable conclusion from analyzing thousands of Personal-Best Leadership Experiences is that everyone has a story to tell. Moreover, these experiences are much more similar in terms of actions, behaviors, and processes than they are different, regardless of context. The data clearly challenges the myths that leadership is something that you find only at the highest levels of organizations and society and that it's something reserved for only a handful of charismatic men and women. The notion that there are only a few great people who can lead others to greatness is just plain wrong. Likewise, it is wrong to suggest that leaders come only from large, or small, or already great, or new organizations, or from established economies, or from certain industries, functions, or disciplines. The truth is leadership is an identifiable set of skills and abilities that are available to anyone. It is because there are so many-not so few-leaders that extraordinary things happen on a regular basis in organizations, especially in times of great uncertainty.
Another crucial truth that weaves itself throughout every situation and every leadership action is that Personal-Best Leadership Experiences are never stories about solo performances. Leaders never make extraordinary things happen all by themselves. Leaders mobilize others to want to struggle for shared aspirations, and this means that, fundamentally, leadership is a relationship. Leadership is a relationship between those who aspire to lead and those who choose to follow. You can't have one without the other. To lead effectively you have to appreciate fully the fundamental dynamics of the leader-constituent relationship. A leader- constituent relationship characterized by fear and distrust will never produce anything of lasting value. A relationship characterized by mutual respect and confidence will overcome the greatest adversities and leave a legacy of significance.
That is precisely what Yamin Durrani told us about his relationship with Bobby Matinpour, marketing manager at National Semiconductor, now part of Texas Instruments, who came aboard just after the company had gone through a massive reorganization followed by a huge layoff. "Company-wide there was a general lack of motivation, sense of mistrust, insecurity, and everyone was looking after their own interest," Yamin said. "Our group in particular was suffering from low motivation, as we didn't trust each other. I dreaded going to the office and there was too much internal competition leading to breakdowns in communication."
Bobby realized that he was going to have to get people to trust one another. His very first initiative was to sit with individual team members to understand their desires, needs, and plans. For the first month, he spent most of the time learning and trying to understand what each person aspired to and enjoyed doing. He held weekly one-on-one meetings with individual team members, asked questions, and listened attentively to what they had to say. "His friendly style and honest, straightforward approach," said Yamin, "led team members to open up and feel secure. He never acted as if he knew everything and was open to learning new things from the team. Bobby understood that he couldn't gain the respect of the team without respecting them and allowing them the freedom to take ownership of their projects. Bobby opened up lines of communication within the team, especially by encouraging greater face-to-face interactions."
In management meetings when a question was asked, even though he could have provided the answer himself, Bobby typically referred it to one of his team members, stating, for example, "Yamin is an expert on this topic. I will let him answer this question." During the annual sales conference, attended by hundreds of company employees, he let the most junior team member make the group presentation, while the whole team stood behind the presenter to answer questions. Yamin observed that:
Being new to the group, Bobby could have easily fallen into the trap of trying to prove himself by individually contributing in projects, or acting as a gatekeeper for information flow; however, he opted to trust his team members on projects and took advice from them as for the approach to take on a particular project. He never forced his ideas. In other words, "my way or the highway" was not his style. He encouraged team members to take initiative and acted as an advisor on projects, and let the ownership remain with the individual team member.
The results of Bobby's leadership were significant. The unit's revenue increased by 25 percent, and the product pipeline overflowed with product ideas. Team spirit soared, people felt engaged, and a general sense of collaboration and teamwork developed. "I personally had not felt more empowered and trusted ever before," Yamin told us. "From this experience I've realized that great leaders grow their followers into leaders themselves."
As Bobby so well demonstrated in the way he focused on others and not on himself, success in leadership, success in work, and success in life are a function of how well people work and play together. Because leadership is a reciprocal process between leaders and their constituents, any discussion of leadership has to appreciate the dynamics of this relationship. Strategies, tactics, skills, and practices are empty without an understanding of the fundamental human aspirations that connect leaders and their constituents.
Model the Way, Inspire a Shared Vision, Challenge the Process, Enable Others to Act, and Encourage the Heart are the leadership practices that emerge from thousands of personal-best leadership cases. However, they paint only a partial portrait of what's going on because leaders don't make extraordinary things happen all by themselves. The full picture requires an understanding and appreciation of what constituents expect from their leaders. You earn leadership from the people you aspire to lead. People choose, on a daily basis, whether they are going to follow and commit completely their talents, time, and energy. In the end, leaders don't decide who leads, followers do.
Leadership is something you experience in an interaction with another human being. That experience varies from leader to leader, from constituent to constituent, and from day to day. No two leaders are exactly alike, no two constituent groups are exactly alike, and no two days in the life of leaders and constituents are exactly alike. Great leadership potential is discovered, and unlocked, when you seek to understand the desires and expectations of your constituents, and when you act on them in ways that are congruent with their norms and image of what an exemplary leader is and does. What leaders say they do is one thing; what constituents say they want and how well leaders meet these expectations is another. Knowing what people want from their leaders is the only way to complete the picture of how leaders can build and sustain the kind of relationships that will make extraordinary things happen.
What People Look for and Admire in Their Leaders
To understand leadership as a relationship, we have investigated the expectations that constituents have of leaders.1 Over the years, we have asked people to tell us the personal traits, characteristics, and attributes they look for and admire in a person whom they would be willing to follow. The responses both affirm and enrich the picture that emerged from studies of personal leadership bests.
Our research on what constituents expect of leaders originally began by surveying thousands of business and government executives. In response to the open-ended question about what they looked for in a person they would be willing to follow, hundreds of different values, traits, and characteristics were reported.2 Subsequent content analysis by independent judges, followed by further empirical analyses, reduced these items to a checklist of twenty attributes, which we call the Characteristics of Admired Leaders (CAL).
Using CAL, we ask people to select the seven qualities that they "most look for and admire in a leader, someone whose direction they would willingly follow." The key word in the preceding sentence is "willingly." It's one thing to follow someone because you think you have to "or else," and it's another when you follow a leader because you want to. What do people expect from an individual they would follow, not because they have to, but because they want to? What does it take to be the kind of leader that others want to follow, doing so enthusiastically and voluntarily?
Over 100,000 people around the globe have responded to the CAL checklist. The survey results have been remarkable in their consistency over the years, as the data in Table 2.1 illustrates. There are some essential "character tests" individuals must pass before others are willing to grant them the designation leader.
While every characteristic receives votes, meaning that each is important to some people, what is most evident and striking is that for over three decades, there are only four qualities that have always received more than 60 percent of the votes (with the exception of Inspiring in 1987, which was...