When I look back at the people who had the most impact on my life, whether they knew it or not, they were leaders.
They were testifying.
They stood for something.
At the end of the day, it’s all about leadership. Whether you’re a teacher, CEO, pastor, politician, or parent, it all comes down to leadership.
How do you become a leader, followers want to follow?
I spent several years seeking the elusive answer.
I read numerous books, signed up for newsletters galore, watched videos, etc.
I decided to become a facilitator for The Leadership Challenge (TLC), based on the book by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner. (This year is the 25th anniversary.)
The major reason I chose TLC was because the model is based on research.
TLC is not Jim and Barry’s opinions on the subject.
They’ve analyzed and documented thousands of ordinary people who became extraordinary leaders. TLC is case study driven.
Over the last 30 years, The Leadership Challenge™ book has sold 2 million copies and translated into twelve languages. More than 350 doctoral dissertations and academic research projects have been based on the Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership™ model.
The five practices are:
1 – Model the Way
As the leader, you need to know who you are. What are your values?
Too many of us walk around trying to be something that we’re not.
The leader embraces authenticity. To do this, they must find their voice. Leaders must set an example of what’s expected and align actions with shared values of the organization.
2 – Inspire a Shared Vision
Once the team believes the messenger, they’re ready to believe the message.
The leader must envision the future by imagining exciting and ennobling possibilities.
They also must collaborate and enlist others by appealing to shared aspirations. To accomplish the organizational goals, the leader needs buy in from everyone on the team.
3 – Challenge the Process
Leaders don’t believe in the status quo.
They’re constantly looking for innovative ways to improve.
The best leaders know they don’t have all the answers. They look to others including customers, constituents, partners, and even the competition for innovative ways to improve.
They take risks and celebrate the failures and wins along the way.
4 – Enable Others To Act
Extraordinary leadership is built on collaborating with others, building trust, and facilitating relationships.
Leaders bring out the “A” game in every single person. To do this, they put their people in position to win. They get the team the resources they need to get their jobs done.
5 – Encourage The Heart
The best leaders give kudos to everyone else in the organization.
They’re humble and vulnerable.
They give thanks openly, privately, and anonymously.
The best leaders know it’s not about them. It’s about the individuals that make it happen.
Instead of always being in the limelight, the best leaders put others on stage and shine the spotlight on the individual while applauding in the wings.
As I read TLC, I said to myself, “How hard can this be? It’s all common sense.”After many years of coaching and observing leaders, I can tell you, being a leader is a huge challenge.
Some companies, the ones I prefer doing business with, are proactive. They see leadership development as an investment with both a hard and soft ROI.
Most companies however, wait until they’re at the end of their rope to send high potentials to leadership training.
This expense, in their eyes, will fix it all like an “I Dream of Jeannie” episode. It doesn’t work that way! You just don’t send your people to a leadership workshop and expect them to instantly transform your organization.
The secret to becoming a leader followers want to follow, is to practice these principles, day in and day out.
What’s your thought on the model? Which one of the five practices stands out more so than the others?
I encourage you to comment below.
Photo courtesy of David Spinks.
What a wonderful share Steve.
You know I’ve changed a lot throughout my life learning new things and finding better ways. The one thing I have never changed are my morals and values. I find it hard that some people can’t put a finger on theirs.
I love that you’re sharing with us what you’re learning in this workshop. Sounds like an award winning one to me.
Throughout my life I’ve always had people tell me I’m a leader but in my mind I never saw myself as that. The qualities I do have though are I love to help people so I’m good at helping them learn and I’m a huge motivator. Huge!!! I love to lift people up so they can realize their full potential.
I don’t know if I have all the qualities but as long as others seem to think so then I’m going to fun with it.
Thanks for sharing this Steve and hope you’ll be teaching more on this topic in the near future.
Enjoy your week.
Jim Collins book “Good to Great” analyzed the top performing companies on numerous levels including the person leading the company. The best were called Level 5 Leaders.
The number one quality of Level 5 is humility. You my friend are eating a lot of humble pie.
Keep lifting and leading others!
I agree Steve. Many people believe leaders are just people in charge barking orders at others. My definition of a leader is someone who says, “I’ll go first.”
Leaders pave the way for others to follow through their experience.
You provided a perfect definition of the first exemplary practice of Model the Way.
Don’t be a stranger. Come back again.
I came across to you through Adrienne’s blog.
I think you have very well defined the traits of the leaders:
Leaders are great source of inspiration, they really challenge the contemporary wisdom, they are innovative in that sense. They provide the platform for others and provide them with TIMELY encouragement.
Thanks for sharing this knowledge.
Timely seems to be the operative word in your comment Sapna. This comes from having great awareness and strong emotional intelligence. Great leaders know the perfect time to step in or out of a situation.
I agree with all of these principles. However, as a leader, you must know what those in your sphere of influence want. What makes them tick? This is the initial action which must be taken prior to anything. It is the knowledge and selflessness to know those on your team rather than purport for an ‘end gain’ business. 😉
Looking forward to hearing more when we meet.
p.s. I like play on words.
Just adore this post Steve!! Can’t believe I missed it first time around!
That’s the first time a post has been publicly adored. I’m blushing Gisele. ;-p
We’re do for another call. When?