Book Review: ‘The Leadership Challenge’ by Kouzes & Posner
The Leadership Challenge, by Kouzes & Posner (2008, Jossey-Bass)
The classic book I’ve chosen this month is ‘The Leadership Challenge,’ by Kouzes and Posner. The authours went around the world, across all sorts of cultures and nationalities, and they looked at what leaders do when extraordinary results happen in organisations.
Just take one of the key questions they studied: ’What characteristics do followers want from their leaders?’ This is a question for us all.
Delegates in the colloquium know I love setting up experiments in class. The first of many such experiments comes on day 1 of the colloquium. I ask Kouzes & Posner’s question, phrased as: ‘What do you want from your leaders?’*
It’s remarkable, but every time, four characteristics seem to rise to the top of the list. What’s more, they come up in the same proportions Kouzes & Posner found, as well.
Here are the global results, and again, these are consistent across all sorts of socio-economic backgrounds, nationalities and cultures:
Forward Looking (71%)
Think about it: if you want to improve your leadership, and influence others, here are four universal characteristics you can improve.
Consider this for yourself, and let me know what you think. The ‘Challenge’ in the title is about how we can act upon Kouzes and Posner’s research findings. How can you demonstrate your honesty, for instance? Remember, it’s not whether you are honest or not, but how do you communicate, role model and act in a way that demonstrates honesty?
And get a copy of the book. It’s hefty, but it has a good index so you can search for themes as you need them.
* I am indebted to Des Penny for showing me this exercise many years ago.