The leadership challenged was written by James Kouzes and Barry Posner. This book is a good field guide for any leaders be it a CEO in a multi-million company or a college student-organization president. It was first published in 1987 and has been translated into more than twelve languages. It is organized in terms of chapters and brings its ideas into light in an organized and easy to find manner. Over 1.5 million copies of this book have been sold.
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The first part of this book emphasizes on the five practices of exemplary leadership. It enables the leaders to follow five practices with an aim to acquire great leadership abilities and skills. This part goes ahead and discusses how leadership is more of a relation rather than just a mere post. The book interprets the notion of leadership as an instrument to create good relations between a leader and his subordinate. It discusses on the ten commandments of leadership. The authors illustrated part 1 of this book by giving real-life stories of successful leaders. It also emphasizes on good characteristics of leaders such as honesty, hard work, ability to delegate and credibility. This leads to the development of the first law of leadership by Kouzes and Posner “if you don’t believe in the messenger, you won’t believe the message” (p.38). Credibility is emphasized a lot by the authors. It enables a leader to motivate and guide his subordinates with a clear vision. This leads to their second law of leadership “Do what you say you will do”. Constituents and their importance to the leadership process have also been emphasized in the first part of this book as they enhance attainment of team goals.
In the second part of the book, the authors have emphasized on modelling the way which is the first practice. They explain what modelling the way means. It entails the leader who knows his values well and has his point of view considering different issues. A successful leader copes with problems and focuses on the goals ahead of him. It also involves setting an example of efficient leader’s actions and behaviours.
In the third part, the authors write about the second of the five practices, “inspire a shared vision”. It entails the leader envisioning the team’s possibilities in terms of the past, present and future. The writers focus on the present or future. They describe leader’s abilities to listen to the subordinates. Leaders should know what is meaningful to the subordinates and match it with their goals.
Part four emphasizes on challenging the process which is the third practice. This entails searching for opportunities which involves the leaders being creative and innovative in coming up with good solutions. It also involves having and maintaining good communication channels among team members, experimenting and taking risks. That is characterized by learning from experience and introducing a small scale programming to produce greater results.
The fourth practice is outlined in the part five that is called “enabling others to act”. This is achieved through the formation of positive relationships among subordinates and leaders. The leader must learn to delegate as it leads to self-determination of his subordinates and, consequently, to better and great results. The leader should also support and encourage his subordinates as it will lead to confidence and competence in the constituents.
The final practice is represented in part six whereby the authors emphasize on “encouraging hearts”. The writers state that recognizing the constituents’ efforts and rewarding them will enhance their self-worth hence higher performance. The leaders should also be personally involved in projects with the constituents as they will have a sense of care. The leader should also make the constituents feel like they are part of the organization.
The book gives a few activities after every part in which a leader can engage to enhance the practices that have been discussed. The five best practices framework can be used in any leadership context, and it has also highlighted the various elements of a good leader. The authors have also brought in real-life experiences of successful leaders that will help the reader understand better.
However, the book is a kind of biased thing to leaders in a business setting and can be less helpful to other leaders in different fields. The commitments mentioned in the book are very complex for an aspiring leader or a struggling leader to understand. The book gives an aspiration for future leadership as it teaches values, good qualities of a leader and also practices in which one can be an efficient and a good leader.
The book has given an insight on leadership, and I would like to be a manager in a big company. I want people to remember me for clarifying my values and always sticking to what I believe. A successful leader should delegate work to subordinates with an aim to help them grow and be determined. I want to influence people and steer an organization to greater levels of success.
The leadership challenge is an exciting book for leaders as it gives a lot of insight on how to strengthen the leadership skills and abilities. It has put forward real-life examples, which a leader can relate to.