In 2002, Jossey Bass published a book by James Kouzes and Barry Posner called The Leadership Challenge. Building upon the Hersey-Blanchard model and other transformational leadership models, they went to the heart of what skills are required by the leader to stimulate such a transformation. What abilities are able to influence followers and bring them to accept the leader’s vision as their own?
An Introduction to Kouzes and Posner
James Kouzes and Barry Posner asked thousands of people to rank list of characteristics associated with leadership, including the seven top qualities that motivated them to follow willingly. They gave this survey to over 75,000 people over a 20-year period.
In their book, The Leadership Challenge, the authors identified five abilities that were crucial to successful leadership:
- Model the Way: You must lead by example. You can’t come into work 10 minutes late every day if you want your employees to arrive on time.
- Inspire a Shared Vision: If you capture the imagination, you will inspire creative thought and increase loyalty. The vision doesn’t need to be grandiose, but it needs to be communicated effectively for others to adopt it as one of their own.
- Challenge the Process: Don’t continue doing something just because “We’ve always done it that way.” Situations change, and sometimes a policy or procedure never worked well in the first place. Think outside the box.
- Enable Others to Act: Truly empower people to act on their own within their level of authority. The famed Ritz-Carlton hotel empowers every employee at all levels to spend up to $1000 on behalf of a guest (who is informed reimbursement will be required for whatever request they make).
- Encourage the Heart: A positive attitude is infectious. If the leader appears passionate or excited about the vision, others will catch the enthusiasm as well.
A Personal Inventory
The results of the Kouzes/Posner study, with the most important quality at the top: