Leadership is Everyone’s Business
For the longest time, many believed that only a few great people can lead others to greatness. According to Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, authors of The Leadership Challenge®, that’s just plain wrong.
Through decades of research on leadership, Kouzes and Posner uncovered one singular lesson: leadership is everyone’s business. In the book, they’ve defined leadership as an art of mobilizing others to want to struggle for shared aspirations. The stories they’ve gathered show how leaders collaborate to achieve the extraordinary. Hence, leadership is a relationship.
When leaders encourage their subordinates to make a difference, Kouzes and Posner calls it The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership®: Model the Way, Inspire a Shared Vision, Challenge the Process, Enable Others to Act, and Encourage the Heart.
A leader who can effectively Model the Way has to be clear about personal guiding principles. One should be able to clarify these values and affirm these to the group. With core values in place, that leader can then Inspire a Shared Vision. A vision of the future can only be attractive if it’s exciting and ennobling. Thus, a group can quickly latch their aspirations on it and work towards a goal.
For Kouzes and Posner, leaders should also Challenge the Process. Since challenge is the crucible for greatness, no great leader should keep things the same. They shouldn’t sit and wait for an opportunity to happen.
To Enable Others to Act means accepting that solitary effort can only do so much. Success is achieved through teamwork. Collaboration by building trust and facilitating relationships must be fostered. And the final piece of the Five Practices is Encourage the Heart. Contributions and individual excellence from the team should be valued and appreciated.
Kouzes and Posner’s research encompassed significant periods in time. Impressively, the Five Practices framework has stood the test of time. The context of leadership has changed, but the fundamental behaviors and actions of leaders remain the same.