Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership Part One Model the Way

Published: 21st August 2009
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In Kouzes and Posner's book "The Leadership Challenge" they introduce the five practices of exemplary leadership. Based on personal best case studies from leaders who turned around their organizations, from all different cultures and circumstances, these are the important lessons to learn from the exemplary leaders of our present and past. We strive to learn what it is that mobilizes people - by the power of their own free will despite difficulty and with risk - to strive to climb to the top.

Looking in depth into the dynamic process of leadership, through many case analyses and survey questionnaires, Kouzes and Posner uncovered the give practices common to personal-best leadership experiences:

1) Model the Way
2) Inspire a Shared Vision
3) Challenge the Process
4) Enable Others to Act
5) Encourage the Heart

The key behind these factors is that they are not traits capable by only those with the right personality. They are principles to follow which will transform your leadership into its strongest form. They are available to anyone who accepts the leadership challenge.
Model the Way

Titles are granted. It is behavior that wins respect. Gayle Hamilton, a director with Pacific Gas & Electric Company, said, "I would never ask anyone to do anything I was unwilling to do first." This is a sentiment held by many of the successful leaders studied. In order to gain the commitment of others and achieve the greatest possible results, leaders must be models of the behavior they want to see.

Organizational culture starts at the top. In order to successfully guide any corporation it begins with being clear about the guiding principles. You must lead from what you believe, and stand up for what you believe. Eloquent speeches aren't enough of course. Far more important is the actions you take to show the organizations commitment. Leadership comes first by setting the example, then incentives and praise for creativeness and achievement.

The key is to realize the importance of spending time with coworkers, of working side by side, of telling stories to make values come alive, of being highly visible during times of uncertainty, and of asking questions to get people to think about values and priorities. Modeling the way is essentially earning the right and the respect to lead through direct individual involvement and action. People follow the person, not the way.

Eric Douglas is LRI's principal consultant with expertise in strategic planning, leadership development and change management. Discover how your communication style affects your organizational structure by taking our straightalk survey.

It all starts with the CEO and top management. Stay on top with quality content, blog posts, and downloadable tools to help you run your business at our Leadership Development Program website.

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