The Leadership Challenge

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The Leadership Challenge is a classic book that is an inspirational read.  The authors, James Kouzes and Barry Posner, have through their research defined five leadership principles and ten commitments of leadership.

These principles and commitments are as true today as when The Leadership Challenge hit the best sellers lists.  The authors’ guidance to leaders today is strikingly similar to the theme of the classic Leadership Challenge.  Jim Kouzes recently stated: “The most important advice that I can give a leader is credibility is the foundation of leadership. I bet I’ve said this at least once a day for the last 30 years.”  This is not simply worn out advice based on an outdated conclusion.  This is based on 30 years of research that continues to support The Challenge.

Kouzes and Posner bring forth several lessons learned from their study of leaders’ personal best achievements:

  • Leaders challenge the process, change things, and shake up the organization.
  • Leaders do not attract followers through defiance but through their respect for others’ aspirations.
  • Effective leaders have a long-term outlook.
  • Leaders have vision and set direction.
  • Leaders’ energy and enthusiasm comes from a strong sense of purpose and a willingness to express their convictions.
  • Leaders enable others rather than control them.
  • The best leaders are in touch and care.
  • Credibility of action is the single most important factor in being followed over time.
  • Leadership is a process that involves skills and abilities.
  • Leadership is disciplined passion.

The authors propose that great leadership has five common behaviors:

  1. Challenging the process – those who lead others to greatness seek challenge.  They recognize and support great ideas.  They learn from their success and their mistakes.
  2. Inspiring a shared vision – leaders get others to buy-in by creating a shared and common purpose.  They know their people and speak their language.
  3. Enabling others to act – it’s about the team.  Exemplary leaders gain the support of everyone needed to succeed.  This is the most significant of the five practices.
  4. Modeling the way – your behavior is what earns you respect.  Act in ways which are consistent with your message.
  5. Encouraging the heart – celebrate success.  Show your team they can win.

The great news is that these are skills and abilities that you can develop over time.   The most effective leaders take time to learn and develop new skills.  Leaders grow in their skills and abilities through experience and purposeful self-development.  Are you ready for a leadership challenge?  Which of these behaviors will you commit to develop today?

Best regards,

Christian Paulsen

Lean Leadership Blog

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About Christian Paulsen

Christian Paulsen is an Executive Consultant with 20 years of Lean Manufacturing. Chris adds value to organizations by driving process improvement and bottom line savings. Chris intends to help others by sharing the lessons learned after a quarter century of operational leadership, marriage, parenting, and even longer as a Cubs fan. Your comments on this blog are welcome. You can also connect with Chris via LinnkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook in the right sidebar. Chris welcomes your comments. Christian's professional services are available by contacting him through LinkedIn (right side bar)
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1 Response to The Leadership Challenge

  1. Karlin says:

    I have a problem with the overall premise of your article but I still think its really informative. I really like your other posts. Keep up the great work. If you can add more video and pictures can be much better. Because they help much clear understanding. 🙂 thanks Karlin.

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