Just recently I read a book by Kouzes and Posner called The Leadership Challenge.
It is a must read for leaders.
Leadership is key to success in every endeavor.
Especially when looking to expand your international business to emerging markets. You need to grow strong global leaders.
As leadership guru John Maxwell so accurately asserts, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.”
The success for failure of your endeavour relies on the leadership ability of those leading.
Check out this article: 25 To Thrive – The Leadership Cap.
The Leadership Challenge bases its book on five practices of exemplary leaders.
It’s important to note that it is five practices, not five natural abilities.
“The authors accurately point out that, “Leadership is not about personality; it’s about behaviour. The Five Practices and ten commitments are available to anyone who accepts the leadership challenge.”
The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership:
1) Model The Way
2) Inspire a Shared Vision
3) Challenge The Process
4) Enable Others to Act
5) Encourage the Heart
Model The Way
- Clarify values by finding your voice and affirming shared ideals.
- Set the example by aligning actions with shared values.
Leadership is influence. It’s the age old principle: people do what you do before they do what you’ll say.
“Titles are granted, but it’s your behavior that wins your respect.”
If you want to become an exceptional leader to others, begin to BE the person you want others to follow.
In order for leaders to model the way, they need to clarify their values.
You, as a leader, need to find your voice by clarifying your personal values then you can begin acting out those values in a way that draws others to align themselves with those values.
And we are not simple talking about personal values, this includes organizational values as well.
Which brings up a side point: Have you taken the time to figure out your organization’s values? If not, it’s key.
Then live out those values yourself.
Don’t be the leader who sits on a pedestal and barks orders. Don’t expect others to do what you are unwilling to do.
“People follow first the person, then the plan.”
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.
Let’s be honest, who gets excited about being a part of a hum-drum, going no-where new, status quo organization?
Have you ever walked into a government run building?
It’s so drab and dull that it’s hard not to fall asleep on a tour. Maybe this isn’t that case for all of them, but most.
There is no inspiring vision.
On the other hand, there is an air of excitement around working at Google, Apple, Zappo’s, Tom’s Shoes or other visionary companies.
Every endeavour starts with a dream. And leaders must inspire a shared vision to reach the dream.
The vision inspires passion, drive, momentum, and commitment.
People want to be a part of an organization that is moving forward with high aspirations.
Begin looking towards the horizon and painting a picture of what could be. Get inspired by this article – Embrace the Horizon of Possibility.
“Leaders cannot command commitment, only inspire it.”
Your key responsibility is to enlist others in the vision.
Challenge the Process
- Search for opportunities by seizing the initiative and by looking outward for innovative ways to improve.
- Experiment and take risks by constantly generating small wins and learning from experience.
Exceptional leaders challenge the status quo.
“Not one person claimed to have achieved a personal best by keeping things the same.”
None of histories great leaders were recognized for doing the same ordinary things.
- Napoleon conquered new territory.
- George Washington, Ben Franklin, and the other founding fathers created a new country with a democratic system unlike any other.
- Thomas Edison created the light bulb.
- Steve jobs redefined the music and film industry by creating the iPod, Pixar, iMac, etc.
Walt Disney created Disney world.
“All leaders challenge the process.”
Everyone of these people CREATED.
Creating is challenging the process.
None of histories greats would have been remembered if they did not challenge the current process and assumptions to create something new.
“Leaders are pioneers. They are willing to step out into the unknown. They search for opportunities to innovate, grow, and improve.”
Enable Others to Act
- Foster collaboration by promoting cooperative goals and building trust.
- Strengthen others by sharing power and discretion
“Grand dreams don’t become significant realities through the actions of a single person. It requires a team effort.”
Awhile ago I wrote an article called The Resource Gap – How to Avoid Plunging Your Vision into the Abyss.
The premise is that you have to consider your resources and capabilities needed to go from where you are to your vision. One key resource is a strong team.
Leaders need to become experts at enabling others to act.
How often do you say ‘I’ in your meetings and conversations with your team. This can be a clue to how well you view your team as a key part of your initiatives.
In his incredible leadership book, Good to Great, Jim Collins says that great leaders look through a window to recognise others when there is a success, and they look in the mirror when there is a failure.
Always speak of ‘we’ for success and triumphs, and ‘I’ for failures.
When people feel empowered they stick around and labor to reach the vision.
Encourage the Heart
- Recognize contributions by showing appreciation for individual excellence
- Celebrate the values and victories by creating a spirit of community
Reaching a huge inspiring vision is hard work. It’s easy for leaders and teams to get exhausted and burnt out on the journey.
This is when leaders need to encourage the heart.
One way to do this is by recognizing others contributions. (Look through the window).
People need to know what they do matters and that others see their hard work.
Celebrate wins. Celebrate everything you can think of!
Senior Leader of the global organization Hillsong, and arguable one of the top leaders in this worldwide says, “Make the special times special.”
“Leaders know that celebrations and rituals, when done with authenticity and from the heart, build a strong sense of collective identity and community spirit that can carry a group through extraordinarily tough times.”
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Picture By: iwona_kellie