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HTM 515 SFSU Management Clarification of Leadership Values Paper

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San Francisco State University, College of Business,
Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management
HTM 515 – Internship
Assignment – Reflection Paper Directions
Instructions: You are required to answer the following questions. You should save your
answers in a Word document for submission. Please do not repeat the questions on your
answer sheet. Instead, please list the answers numerically/sequentially by simply utilizing
1, 2, 3, and 4. Each assignment must have a cover page listing your name, the name of the
assignment, and the date. The cover page does not count towards the word count. For
each assignment, you are expected to answer the assigned questions in your own words.
Each assignment paper should be at least 1,000-1,500 words. Papers less than the
required 1,000-1,500 words will get zero. This does not mean each question requires a
1,000-1,500-word response; rather, the total number of words for answering the
questions must total more than 1,000-1,500 words. See grading rubric below. An
exemplary answer demonstrates comprehension through a complete understanding by
translating, interpreting and extrapolation as well as full analysis of the basic information
into elements by identifying causes and relationships.
Purpose: The purpose of this assignment is to expose students to the issues and
complexities of applied leadership within the hospitality and tourism industry. Students
will be asked to immerse themselves in applied leadership material, reaching out to an
industry leader (mentor) to discuss prescribed issues/topics, and reflect on applied
leadership topics and discussion.
Assignment –
1. Read the assigned material(s) as outlined on the course syllabus
2. From each reflection assignment:
o Provide your mentors contact information (Name, title, company, email)
o Select 4-6 prompts (minimum one prompt from each chapter, from each
book) and write your response to each in an HTM context,
o Length/Format: 1,000-1,500 words minimum. The expected format is
demonstrated below.
o Cite any outside materials or work that is not your own, including the
authors of the reading.
• Upload and submit your reflection paper using the iLearn assignment link
Kouzes, J. M. and B. Z. Posner (2012). “The leadership challenge: How to make
extraordinary things happen in organizations.” Panarchy, the collapse of the
Canadian health care system: 124.
Willink, J. and L. Babin (2017). Extreme ownership: How US Navy SEALs lead and
win, St. Martin’s Press.
READ CAREFULLY: Below is a list of prompts for reflection. Select 4-6 prompts (minimum
one prompt from each chapter, from each book) and write your response to each in an
HTM context. For each question, ask yourself AND ask your mentor the prescribed prompt.
In your written reflection, please separate and identify your reflection versus your
mentor’s response. Make sure that you and your mentor elaborate and give specific
examples to support each response. For instance, if you inquired about values or
philosophy, please make sure you include follow-up questions and ask 1) yourself how you
would apply that philosophy to a specific (hypothetical) situation and 2) your mentor’s
response and to give 2-3 examples of how they used such leadership attributes in the
workplace. You should also reflect on your mentor’s thoughts.
For each question, ask yourself AND ask your mentor the following:
1. Reflection #1 – Model the Way
o LC – Ch 3-4, p.45-92
▪ LC – Ch03 – Clarify Values
• Leadership philosophy –
o What values do you demand of yourself?
o What performance criteria do you demand of yourself?
• Leadership Values –
o What values, or enduring beliefs, drive you as a leader?
o Describe the specific dimensions/variables (e.g., trust,
expectations, pride, commitment, etc.) that you
prescribe to?
• Leadership Consensus o How does one build consensus arounds values,
principles and standards?
▪ LC – Ch04 – Set the Example
• Leadership Behavior Example o How do you keep your commitments and follow
through on your promises? Is this important?
o What are examples of exemplary behavior that leaders
should be demonstrating?
o Do you regularly and publicly ask for feedback from
others about how your actions affect them?
o EO – Ch 1-2, p.17-64
▪ EO – Ch01 – Extreme Ownership
• Why is important for leaders to take ownership of their
situation, even if their employees make mistakes?
▪ EO – Ch02 – No Bad Teams, Only Bad Leaders
• What can leaders do to help their team overcome weaknesses?
2. Reflection #2 – Inspire a Shared Vision
o LC – Ch 5-6, p.93-142
LC – Ch05 – Envision the Future
• Leadership Vision –
o What percentage of time is focused on the future,
imaging possibilities?
o How does future envisioning take place? Evolve to
actual reality?
▪ LC – Ch06 – Enlist Others
• Leadership Enlistment o With amount of time a modern General Manager spends
responding to e-mails and analyzing a plethora of
reports and data leaves little time to focus human
interactions. Is this how GM’s want to operate and what
can be done to change this?
o How does one articulate and encourage constituents to
“buy-in” to a shared vision?
o What happens when constituents don’t buy-in to a
shared vision?
o EO – Ch 3, p. 65-86
▪ EO – Ch03 – Believe
• How can leaders align the immediate tactical mission to the
overall strategic goals? What are the expected obstacles to
doing this?

3. Reflection #3 – Challenge the Process o LC – Ch 7-8, p.143-192
▪ LC – Ch07 – Search for Opportunities
• Leadership Transformation through Opportunities –
o How do leaders seize challenges, turbulence and
adversity and make things better?
o How do leaders take the ordinary/mundane and find
improvements and excellence?
▪ LC – Ch08 – Experiment and Take Risks • Leadership and risk taking
o How can we make a safe environment while allowing
risk taking?
o EO – Ch 4,5,6,7, p.87-168
▪ EO – Ch04 – Check the Ego
• How can egos and/or personal agenda’s hurt a team’s
performance? How do you overcome this?
▪ EO – Ch05 – Cover and Move
• What are the best steps to overcoming “silos”, lack of
teamwork, team divisions/cliques, and distrust?
▪ EO – Ch06 – Simple
• What steps are necessary to keep communication effective and
▪ EO – Ch07 – Prioritize and Execute

What steps might a competent of leader take to avoid being
overwhelmed if they try to tackle multiple problems or a
number of tasks simultaneously?
4. Reflection #4 – Enable Others to Act o LC – Ch 9-10, p.193-244
▪ LC – Ch09 – Foster Collaboration
• Leadership and a climate of trust –
o What steps should be taken to establish a climate of
o With virtual platforms and communication
commonplace, how has this effected professional
relationships and concern for others?
▪ LC – Ch10 – Strengthen Others
• Leadership strengthens others o How does a leader organize the workplace to build
competence and ownership?
o What actions make employees feel powerful and in
control of their circumstances?
o EO – Ch 8,9,10, p.169-244
▪ EO – Ch08 – Decentralized Command
• What considerations are necessary to decentralize authority?
Is this important and why?
▪ EO – Ch09 – Plan
• Why is it important for leaders to clearly identify directives for
the team? Are ambiguous and nonparticipative plans effective?
▪ EO – Ch10 – Leading Up and Down the Chain of Command
• What are the challenges of communicating both up and down
the chain of command? Why is it important to do both well?
5. Reflection #5 –Encourage the Heart o LC – Ch 11-12, p.245-294
▪ LC – Ch11 – Recognize Contributions
• Leadership of contributions and recognition o What is the most effective way to communicate your
positive expectations clearly and regularly?
o What type of environment makes it comfortable to
receive and give helpful feedback?
▪ LC – Ch12 – Celebrate the Values and Victories • Leadership that celebrates values and victories –
o How do effective leaders make work “fun” and
o Why is it important to get personally involved in
employee recognitions and celebrations?
o EO – Ch 11,12, p.245▪ EO – Ch11 – Decisiveness amid Uncertainty

Decisiveness and uncertainty are a given in any environment.
How do leaders balance timeliness and intelligence gathering
in order to make a good and timely response?
EO – Ch12 – Discipline Equals Freedom
• How does a leader balance encouraging others to grow and
become leaders themselves, while maintaining confidence that
someone else will get all the glory?
• How do leaders gain respect?
Sample Reflection Paper Format/Outline

The following outline should be used for your reflection paper. You are not required
to use the titles (e.g., Brief Introduction, Body, etc.) but should use this general
format when writing your paper.
Cover Page
o Title of paper to include the following:
o Reflection Paper Title
o Student Name and ID
o Course Title and Section
o Professor Name and Title
o Due Date of Submission
Main Paper
o As you address each prompt, the following ideas should be integrated within
each question answer.
▪ Brief Introduction
• Introduce the topic to the reader and summarize your
reflection of this topic/article.
▪ Body
• Address the following prompts as prescribed in the
assignment. Include 3-4 examples for each prompt
▪ Conclusion
• Conclude the reflection paper by summarizing your comments
and main points to the reader.
▪ References
• Include any references that were used in your reflection paper
including the main authors. Use APA style.
Plagiarism – Unless noted otherwise, assignments will be submitted through
It is strongly encouraged that you provide citations for any source/reference that is used in
your writing. provides both a “match” analysis and grammar analysis. Your
“match” rating must be under 20% and ideally under 15%. Points will be deducted for high
match ratings, including failure of the assignment.
Reflection Paper Assignment Title Goes Here
John Q Student
HTM424 – Tourism Management
ID: 123456789
San Francisco State University
Faculty: Dr. Andrew Walls
January 1, 2000
1. (Please write the prompt/question you are addressing here, then answer) Sed ut
perspiciatis unde omnis iste natus error sit voluptatem accusantium doloremque laudantium,
totam rem aperiam, eaque ipsa quae ab illo inventore veritatis et quasi architecto beatae vitae
dicta sunt explicabo. Nemo enim ipsam voluptatem quia voluptas sit aspernatur aut odit aut
fugit, sed quia consequuntur magni dolores eos qui ratione voluptatem sequi nesciunt. Neque
porro quisquam est, qui dolorem ipsum quia dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci velit, sed
quia non numquam eius modi tempora incidunt ut labore et dolore magnam aliquam quaerat
voluptatem. Ut enim ad minima veniam, quis nostrum exercitationem ullam corporis suscipit
laboriosam, nisi ut aliquid ex ea commodi consequatur? Quis autem vel eum iure
reprehenderit qui in ea voluptate velit esse quam nihil molestiae consequatur, vel illum qui
dolorem eum fugiat quo voluptas nulla pariatur. Neque porro quisquam est, qui dolorem
ipsum quia dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci velit, sed quia non numquam eius modi
tempora incidunt ut labore et dolore magnam aliquam quaerat voluptatem. Ut enim ad
minima veniam, quis nostrum exercitationem ullam corporis suscipit laboriosam, nisi ut
aliquid ex ea commodi consequatur? Quis autem vel eum iure reprehenderit qui in ea
voluptate velit esse quam nihil molestiae consequatur, vel illum qui dolorem eum fugiat quo
voluptas nulla pariatur
2. (Please write the prompt/question you are addressing here, then answer) Sed ut
perspiciatis unde omnis iste natus error sit voluptatem accusantium doloremque laudantium,
totam rem aperiam, eaque ipsa quae ab illo inventore veritatis et quasi architecto beatae vitae
dicta sunt explicabo. Nemo enim ipsam voluptatem quia voluptas sit aspernatur aut odit aut
fugit, sed quia consequuntur magni dolores eos qui ratione voluptatem sequi nesciunt. Neque
porro quisquam est, qui dolorem ipsum quia dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci velit, sed
quia non numquam eius modi tempora incidunt ut labore et dolore magnam aliquam quaerat
voluptatem. Ut enim ad minima veniam, quis nostrum exercitationem ullam corporis suscipit
laboriosam, nisi ut aliquid ex ea commodi consequatur? Quis autem vel eum iure
reprehenderit qui in ea voluptate velit esse quam nihil molestiae consequatur, vel illum qui
dolorem eum fugiat quo voluptas nulla pariatur. Neque porro quisquam est, qui dolorem
ipsum quia dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci velit, sed quia non numquam eius modi
tempora incidunt ut labore et dolore magnam aliquam quaerat voluptatem. Ut enim ad
minima veniam, quis nostrum exercitationem ullam corporis suscipit laboriosam, nisi ut
aliquid ex ea commodi consequatur? Quis autem vel eum iure reprehenderit qui in ea
voluptate velit esse quam nihil molestiae consequatur, vel illum qui dolorem eum fugiat quo
voluptas nulla pariatur. Neque porro quisquam est, qui dolorem ipsum quia dolor sit amet,
consectetur, adipisci velit, sed quia non numquam eius modi tempora incidunt ut labore et
dolore magnam aliquam quaerat voluptatem. Ut enim ad minima veniam, quis nostrum
exercitationem ullam corporis suscipit laboriosam, nisi ut aliquid ex ea commodi
consequatur? Quis autem vel eum iure reprehenderit qui in ea voluptate velit esse quam nihil
molestiae consequatur, vel illum qui dolorem eum fugiat quo voluptas nulla pariatur.
Hospitality & Tourism Management
HTM515 Writing Assignment
Assessment Rubric
Formatting & Sources
Grammatical structure, sentence
Unacceptable (U)
1-pts ea
Errors in grammar, sentence
structure or spelling
Acceptable (A)
Exemplary (E)
3-pts ea
5-pts ea
Uses correct grammar, sentence Readability enhanced by facility in
structure and spelling throughout language use, range of diction and
syntactic variety
Formatting (word count, font, etc.) Paper does not follow prescribed
Paper follows prescribed format
marginally with a few exceptions
Paper follows prescribed format
Plagiarism (
Similarity rate above 15%
Similarity rate = 15%
Similarity rate below 15%
Citation of secondary sources
None; or majority are
inappropriate or inappropriately
and/or portions are plagiarized
Most sources are appropriate and All sources are appropriate and
cited adequately
cited completely and accurately
Unacceptable (U)
Acceptable (A)
Exemplary (E)
Content and Writing
6-pts ea
11-pts ea
16-pts ea
All prompts addressed
Some portion or all of the prompts All prompts were addressed in
were not addressed
brief and/or imprecise manner
All prompts were addressed in a
detailed and thorough manner
Knowledge, Comprehension,
Demonstrates some understanding Beyond surface understanding;
Demonstrates disciplinary
Understanding & Support of topic of topic; Does not make
Demonstrates facility with topical understanding and
connections among ideas
and disciplinary knowledge
interconnections; makes links that
suggest discovery of new
information or new ways of
relaying information
Source Exploration; Evaluate
Does not evaluate or mention
Evaluates primary source(s) but
Critically evaluates a variety of
information and its sources
primary source(s) or other
does not evaluate a variety of
sources (including primary source
independently researched sources other independently researched & independently researched
sources that are appropriate to the sources) appropriate to the scope
topic of discussion
and discipline of the research
Application of idea/concept
Paper does not solve problems to a Paper solves problems to a new
Paper solves multiple problems in
new situation
situation by applying acquired
a new situation by applying
knowledge, facts and techniques in knowledge, facts and technique in
a different way
different ways
None or extremely weak
Good summary
Reviewed main points and tied
everything together; future
direction(s) proposed
Praise for The Leadership Challenge, Sixth Edition
Title Page
Introduction: Making Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations
What Leaders Do and What Constituents Expect
Chapter 1: When Leaders Are at Their Best
The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership®
The Five Practices Make a Difference
The Ten Commitments of Exemplary Leadership
Chapter 2: Credibility Is the Foundation of Leadership
What People Look for and Admire in Their Leaders
Putting It All Together: Credibility Is the Foundation
Practice 1: Model the Way
Chapter 3: Clarify Values
Find Your Voice
Affirm Shared Values
Chapter 4: Set the Example
Live the Shared Values
Teach Others to Model the Values
Practice 2: Inspire a Shared Vision
Chapter 5: Envision the Future
Imagine the Possibilities
Find a Common Purpose
Chapter 6: Enlist Others
Appeal to Common Ideals
Animate the Vision
Practice 3: Challenge the Process
Chapter 7: Search for Opportunities
Seize the Initiative
Exercise Outsight
Chapter 8: Experiment and Take Risks
Generate Small Wins
Learn from Experience
Practice 4: Enable Others to Act
Chapter 9: Foster Collaboration
Create a Climate of Trust
Facilitate Relationships
Chapter 10: Strengthen Others
Enhance Self-Determination
Develop Competence and Confidence
Practice 5: Encourage the Heart
Chapter 11: Recognize Contributions
Expect the Best
Personalize Recognition
Chapter 12: Celebrate the Values and Victories
Create a Spirit of Community
Be Personally Involved
Chapter 13: Leadership Is Everyone’s Business
Exemplary Leadership Is Local
Exemplary Leadership Matters
Learning Leadership Takes Practice
Contrasts and Contradictions
First Lead Yourself
Leading Is Doing
Remember the Secret to Success in Life
About the Authors
End User License Agreement
List of Tables
Table 1.1
Table 2.1
Table 2.2
Table 4.1
Table 13.1
List of Illustrations
Figure 1.1
Figure 3.1
Figure 4.1
Figure 5.1
Figure 6.1
Figure 7.1
Figure 7.2
Figure 8.1
Figure 8.2
Figure 9.1
Figure 10.1
Figure 10.2
Figure 11.1
Figure 12.1
Figure 13.1
Praise for The Leadership Challenge, Sixth Edition
“Now in its sixth edition, The Leadership Challenge has stood the test of time
for good reason—it’s quite simply one of the best books you’ll ever read on
leadership. A must read!”
—Ken Blanchard, coauthor of The New One Minute Manager®
and Leading at a Higher Level
“How can a book celebrate its 30th anniversary and still remain relevant?
Easy! It’s because the authors never stop growing, learning from all the clients
they work with, from all they read in the literature, and from one another.
They continue to fill the pages of this book with the best stories, examples, and
memorable lessons learned. This is the right resource for anyone just entering
the leadership field, or for those who read the book three decades ago!”
—Beverly Kaye, founder, Career Systems International,
coauthor, Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em, Help them Grow or Watch Them Go
“Whether you are just beginning your leadership journey, or a seasoned CEO,
or a professor of leadership, this timeless leadership classic needs to be within
constant reach!”
—Harry Kraemer Jr., former chairman and CEO, Baxter International;
professor of management and strategy, Northwestern University’s Kellogg
School of Management
“The Leadership Challenge is a book that not only serves your career but more
importantly it is a tool for leading a better life. Jim and Barry have put
together one of the greatest of leadership insights. Every leader should take
advantage of the gift that is The Leadership Challenge.”
—Howard Behar, president (retired), Starbucks Coffee
“I love The Leadership Challenge! This is the book on leadership that I
recommend to all of my clients. The sixth edition provides the best of all
worlds: 1. It contains the timeless wisdom that Jim and Barry have
accumulated over more than 25 years—it has been and continues to be a
classic in our field. 2. It has been updated to reflect how their timeless
leadership concepts can be best applied in today’s ever-changing world.”
—Marshall Goldsmith, bestselling author of What Got You Here
Won’t Get You There, MOJO, and Triggers
“I’ve been a fan—and follower—of The Leadership Challenge for almost 25
years, and the principles are as relevant today as they have ever been. In this
leadership classic, Kouzes and Posner have identified and brought to life
invaluable practices that are as insightful as they are practical.”
—Patrick Lencioni, president, The Table Group;
bestselling author of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team
and The Advantage
“No book has ever chronicled the practices of true leadership better than The
Leadership Challenge, and this updated edition deftly outlines how to be a
phenomenal leader in the 21st century.”
—Chip Conley, New York Times bestselling author of Emotional Equations,
and Airbnb Global Head of Hospitality and Strategy
“The Leadership Challenge is a classic, insightful and compelling book. All
leadership positions come with its own challenges, but not all leaders know
how to navigate through them. If you are looking to excel as a leader, and you
need digestible and partial advice: The Leadership Challenge by Jim Kouzes
and Barry Posner is the book for you. It will not only help you become a great
a leader but it will help mobilize your people into getting extraordinary things
done. Buy this book, read this book and live this book. Then buy this book for
those who truly care about leadership.”
—Lolly Daskal, president and founder of Lead From Within,
author of The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You
and Your Greatness
“If I could recommend only one of the tens of thousands of leadership books
ever written, The Leadership Challenge would absolutely be my top choice,
and by a wide margin. This sixth edition builds markedly on the last but
remains characteristically Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner—a complex work in
its underlying character, but brilliant in its simplicity and practical in design.
The Leadership Challenge is the most useful leadership book ever written; I
have each and every edition, and each is better than the last.”
—Thomas A. Kolditz, PhD, director, Doerr Institute for New Leaders,
Rice University
“The Leadership Challenge is more relevant now than ever. Jim and Barry
continue to provide compelling evidence and examples of leadership that
embodies our humanity and capacity to intimately collaborate with others.
This book is important in sustaining our faith in the possibilities inherent in
institutional life, no matter what chaos surrounds us at the moment. I highly
recommend this book.”
—Peter Block, author of Flawless Consulting and The Empowered
“Kouzes and Posner did not invent leadership but sometimes it seems that
way. As Alice Waters is to cooking, or Paul McCartney is to music, Kouzes and
Posner have developed a discipline and an approach to leadership that sets
them apart from all the others. With the sixth edition of The Leadership
Challenge they not only update their research, they make it once again, come
alive. The Leadership Challenge, 6th Edition, not only coaches us on how to
make extraordinary things happen, the book is extraordinary.”
—Richard A. Moran, Ph.D., president, Menlo College and
author of The Thing About Work, Showing Up
and Other Important Matters
“For over 25 years The Leadership Challenge has guided me to know myself
and growing as a leader and achieving better results—every time! This new
edition improves on an already extraordinary and time tested model by
emphasizing the importance and value of engaging your team and those
around you. In my business, being a better leader and growing new leaders
means improving the health of people and their families. When nurses are
more engaged and authentically supported, patients are healthier! The
Leadership Challenge, with this contemporary update, enables me to improve
the health of patients, their families and the communities that we serve. With
so many leadership books out there this is truly the ONLY one that you need.”
—Lori Armstrong, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, chief nurse executive,
Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara Medical Center
“What appeals to me most about The Leadership Challenge, Sixth Edition is
sheer enthusiasm for the art and the practice of leadership. The art of
leadership involves bringing people together for common cause. The practice
of leadership requires commitment to action for the common good. Both are
easy to address, but hard to implement. In this wonderful new edition, Jim
Kouzes and Barry Posner provide real-world advice—underscored with solid
research—that points us in the right direction. Good stuff!”
—John Baldoni, president, Baldoni Consulting LLC;
author, Lead with Purpose, Lead Your Boss, and Lead By Example
“The Leadership Challenge is written for leaders who want to transform
organizations through some of the most turbulent times in healthcare. These
case studies and research on The Five Practices and Ten Commitments of
Leadership present very practical ways to be visionary, innovative,
collaborative, and engaged with your employees. Every nurse is a leader—from
the bedside to the boardroom—and all should be competent in the works of
The Leadership Challenge. I recommend it to ALL!”
—Susan Herman, DNP, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, CENP,
2015 president, Assoc. of CA Nurse Leaders,
and VP Patient Care Services & CNO,
San Joaquin Community Hospital/Adventist Health
“If I could recommend only one of the tens of thousands of leadership books
ever written, The Leadership Challenge would absolutely be my top choice,
and by a wide margin. This sixth edition builds markedly on the last but
remains characteristically Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner—a complex work in
its underlying character, but brilliant in its simplicity and practical in design.
The Leadership Challenge is the most useful leadership book ever written; I
have each and every edition, and each is better than the last.”
—Thomas A. Kolditz, PhD, director, Doerr Institute for New Leaders,
Rice University
“The Leadership Challenge isn’t theory. It’s insight based on rigorous and
extensive research. And for me, the most profound insight is a very simple
one: the importance of defining your own personal values and aligning your
leadership style around them. As the leader of a large sales organization, I’ve
seen firsthand how powerful that type of authentic leadership can be at all
—Mark Madgett, SVP & Head of Agency, New York Life
The Leadership Challenge
Sixth Edition
How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in
James M. Kouzes
Barry Z. Posner
Cover image: © alzajac/iStockphoto
Cover design: Wiley
This book is printed on acid-free paper.
Copyright © 2017 by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner. All rights reserved.
Published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey.
Published simultaneously in Canada.
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with the Library of Congress.
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Making Extraordinary Things Happen in
The Leadership Challenge is about how leaders mobilize others to want to
get extraordinary things done in organizations. It’s about the practices leaders
use to transform values into actions, visions into realities, obstacles into
innovations, separateness into solidarity, and risks into rewards. It’s about
leadership that makes a positive difference in the workplace and creates the
climate in which people turn challenging opportunities into remarkable
The publication of this edition of The Leadership Challenge marks thirty years
since the book was first published. We’ve spent nearly four decades together
researching, consulting, teaching, and writing about what leaders do when
they are at their best and how everyone can learn to become better leaders.
We’re honored by the reception we’ve received in the professional and
business marketplace and blessed that students, educators, and practitioners
continue to find that The Leadership Challenge is both conceptually and
practically useful.
We persist in asking today the same basic question we asked in 1982 when we
started our journey into understanding exemplary leadership: What did you
do when you were at your personal best as a leader? We’ve talked to men
and women, young and old, representing just about every type of organization
there is, at all levels, in all functions, from many different places around the
world. Their stories, and the behaviors and actions they’ve described, have
resulted in the creation of The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership®
framework described in this book. When leaders do their best, they Model the
Way, Inspire a Shared Vision, Challenge the Process, Enable Others to Act,
and Encourage the Heart.
The Leadership Challenge is evidence-based. Analyzing thousands of case
studies and millions of survey responses resulted in The Five Practices
framework. The hundreds of examples in this book, of real people doing real
things, document the practical nature of the model. Each chapter provides
fresh and original data on the impact that the behavior of leaders has on
engagement and performance.
With each new edition, we get clearer about the leadership actions that make a
difference. We reiterate what’s still important, discard what’s not, and add
what’s new. We contemporize the framework and freshen up the language and
point of view so that the book is highly relevant to current circumstances and
conditions. And, we are more authoritatively prescriptive about the best
practices of leaders. The more we research and write about leadership, the
more confident we become that leadership is within the grasp of everyone. The
opportunities for leadership are boundless and boundaryless.
With each new edition, we also get to address a new audience, and sometimes
even a new generation of emerging leaders. That opportunity motivates us to
collect new cases, examine new research findings, and talk with people we
haven’t heard from. It encourages us to perform a litmus test of relevance on
our results: Does this model of leadership continue to make sense? If we
started all over again, would we find new leadership practices? Would we
eliminate any of the practices? In this regard, we are aided by the ongoing
empirical data provided by the online version of the Leadership Practices
Inventory.® This inventory, which assesses The Five Practices, provides more
than 400,000 responses annually, and keeps us on guard and on target in
identifying the behaviors that make a difference.
We know that all of you face vexing issues that not only make leadership more
urgent, but also require you to be more conscious and conscientious about
being a leader. Others are looking to you to help them figure out what they
should be doing and how they can develop themselves to be leaders. You don’t
just owe it to yourself to become the best leader you can possibly be. You owe
it to your constituents. They are also expecting you to do your best.
A Field Guide for Leaders
How do you become the kind of leader people want to follow? How do you get
other people, by free will and free choice, to move forward together in pursuit
of a common vision? How do you mobilize others to want to struggle for
shared aspirations? These are only some of the important questions we
address in The Leadership Challenge. Think of the book as a field guide to
take along on your leadership journey. Think of it as a manual you can consult
when you want advice and counsel on how to make things happen and move
Chapter One offers two case studies about Personal-Best Leadership
Experiences. These stories took place in dissimilar locations and industries,
involving different functions, people, and styles, but they both illustrate how
The Five Practices apply whenever you accept the challenge of leadership. The
chapter continues with an overview of The Five Practices and illustrates
empirically that these leadership practices make a difference.
Asking leaders about their personal bests is important, but it’s only half the
story. Leadership is a relationship between leaders and followers. A more
complete picture of leadership develops when you understand what people
look for in someone they would willingly follow. In Chapter Two, we reveal
the characteristics people value most in their leaders and share the voices of
people explaining why these are important.
The ten chapters that follow describe the Ten Commitments of Leadership—
the essential behaviors that leaders employ to make extraordinary things
happen—and explain the conceptual principles that support each of The Five
Practices. We offer evidence from our research, and that of others, to support
the principles, provide examples of real people who demonstrate each practice
in real life, and prescribe specific recommendations on what you can do to
make each practice your own. A Take Action section concludes each of these
chapters, suggesting what you need to do to make this leadership practice an
ongoing and natural part of your behavioral and attitudinal repertoire.
Whether the focus is your own learning or the development of your
constituents—your direct reports, team, peers, manager, community
members, and the like—you can take immediate action on every one of our
recommendations. They don’t require a budget or approval from anyone. They
just require your personal commitment and discipline.
In Chapter Thirteen, we call on everyone to accept personal responsibility to
be a role model for leadership. Through six editions, we continue to champion
the view that leadership is everyone’s business. The first place to look for
leadership is within yourself. Accepting the leadership challenge requires
reflection, practice, humility, and taking advantage of every opportunity to
make a difference. As we have in every edition, we close with this conclusion:
Leadership is not an affair of the head. Leadership is an affair of the heart.
We recommend that you first read Chapters One and Two, but after that there
is no sacred order to proceeding through the rest of this book. Go wherever
your interests are. We wrote this material to support you in your leadership
development. Just remember that each practice and commitment of
leadership is essential. Although you might skip around in the book, you can’t
skip any of the fundamentals of leadership.
The domain of leaders is the future. The work of leaders is change. The most
significant contribution leaders make is not to today’s bottom line; it is to the
long-term development of people and institutions so they can adapt, change,
prosper, and grow. Our ongoing aspiration is that this book contributes to the
revitalization of organizations, to the creation of new enterprises, to the
renewal of healthy communities, and to greater respect and understanding in
the world. We also fervently hope that it enriches your life and that of your
community and your family.
Leadership is important, not just in your career and within your organization,
but in every sector, in every community, and in every country. We need more
exemplary leaders, and we need them more than ever. So much extraordinary
work needs to be done. We need leaders who can unite us and ignite us.
Meeting the leadership challenge is a personal—and a daily—challenge for
everyone. We know that if you have the will and the way to lead, you can. You
supply the will. We’ll do our best to keep supplying the way.
James M. Kouzes
Orinda, California
Barry Z. Posner
Berkeley, California
April 2017
What Leaders Do and What Constituents Expect
Chapter 1
When Leaders Are at Their Best
For Brian Alink, the digital revolution is as profound as the Industrial
Revolution.1 The way organizations solve problems, drive innovation, and
scale those innovations to millions of people so quickly and efficiently is
massively changing the workplace, the marketplace, and the community. But
as exciting as all this is, something else energizes him even more: the chance
to learn how to be an even more effective leader in this new context.2
The opportunity to do just that came when Brian was asked to help refine how
the credit card business at Capital One Financial Corporation serviced
customers across all channels. This challenge was different from others he had
spearheaded because it was about “how we change the mind-sets of leaders
across the credit card business to use a digital-first approach for servicing. It
was about solving real problems that cause customers pain, anxiety, or
frustration, and about how we can make it better for them.”
When Brian moved into his current role as managing vice president at Card
Digital Channels, he began working with a newly formed team that had just
come together. “This put a whole lot of uncertainty into what we were doing,”
he acknowledged, and so Brian spent the first few weeks meeting with the
executives and other leaders who owned parts of the customer experience,
“just listening, learning, getting context, and immersing myself in the
situation.” He did the same one-on-one with his immediate team. Guiding him
in this initial relationship-building process was a leadership philosophy that
had served him well over the years: “At the very beginning of a journey like
this,” he said, “it’s about getting to know each other personally.”
It’s about knowing who these people are that are working with me,
knowing their values, what they love to do, what they care about, and
what they stand for. I also love the opportunity to introduce myself—not
as a leader or as a strategist or as the analyst or whatever we’re trying to
do—but just as somebody who is with them as a real human trying to have
a greater experience in life and trying to make the world a better place.
Brian pulled his entire leadership team together for a four-hour discussion. He
began by explaining how he was attempting to build an environment of trust:
This is the kind of environment where we want to do the greatest work of
our lives, where we want to truly make a difference, where we’re feeling
committed and we want to do something that matters, that has meaning
to us personally.
Trust comes from understanding each other’s values and understanding
our experiences and what we stand for. In order for that to happen, we’ve
got to be vulnerable, and we have to be open. Then we can build on that
base of values and trust.
Brian had found that every time he’s had this conversation with a new team
the experience had been “magical.” Without exception, people opened up and
shared their personal challenges with one another. As Brian appreciates,
everyone has challenges in their lives, and that it’s those hard moments that
shape who people are and what they stand for. “What drives all of us,” Brian
says, “is that we want to do something meaningful for the people we work
with, where it really helps them grow and do something better for the people
around us. We want to have that same kind of impact on our customers.”
Through those early meetings, Brian and his team got clear about their shared
vision and values. They developed their core strategy and determined how
they were going to operate. With this collaborative effort, everyone on the
team felt they had created their approach together and developed ownership
for it.
Brian and his leadership team then designed and conducted an all-hands
meeting that included both his immediate team and extended teams outside
the Card Customer Experience organization. They walked everyone through
the process their team had gone through together, then rolled out the new
plan and engaged everyone—the developers, the software engineers, the
designers, and others—in learning about their mission. This approach helped
to dissipate much of the concern and ambiguity, and, Brian observed,
“communicated clearly that the leadership team was emotionally committed,
had each other’s backs, were here to help support our entire team, and to do
something big that really mattered.”
But they didn’t want this to be only a priority for the customer experience
team. They needed to make the idea of helping customers become more
digital, and have effortless experiences, a shared vision across all of the credit
card business. They wanted everyone—people from product design, credit
policy, fraud, collection, credit lines, lost and stolen cards, and other functions
—to see themselves in the bigger picture. Brian’s team set up meetings with
leaders from across the business, shared their aspirations with them, showed
them where customers were running into problems, provided them with
insightful data, and told them how they could work together to create painless
experiences for customers.
As essential as it is to create a vision for and to serve your own vertical team,
Brian told us, it’s equally important to do the same for your peers and those
you don’t directly manage:
If we can get leaders who are adjacent to our area to come help us and
then be willing to give them the credit for the help they provide, it doesn’t
take away from my leadership or my team’s contribution at all. This is a
powerful way to get a lot more intelligence and mind share and support
for something bigger that we all need to be working on. In doing so, we
create a win for everybody.
Knowing that getting others to collaborate isn’t always easy, Brian offered
technical resources from his own team in order to help others help him. He
operated on a compelling premise: “We are going to win if we help others win.
We’ve got to give in order to get. If we can move the whole organization, what
we are going to get is so much bigger than what we could ever have done on
our own. . . . Being humble and letting others shine comes back to you many
times over.” Brian’s team created moments when leaders from other parts of
the organization would come together and showcase their work. These forums
elevated others, honored them, and gave them public recognition and credit
for the contributions they were making.
While the core of the customer experience approach to leading is elevating
others, staying in the background, and giving credit to others, Brian makes
sure that those who do the giving are refueled with the energy they need to
keep on giving. Each week, he and his leadership team hold standup meetings
at which they highlight what everyone is working on and look into problems,
successes, lessons learned, and even failures they’ve had. Those who work in
different geographic locations join by video. During these meetings, the
leadership team looks for “praise moments” where they can draw attention to
exemplary behaviors in front of everyone. When they hear or see something
they want to shine a spotlight on, someone will say, “Let’s pause for just a
moment. That right there was a wonderful example of what we are striving to
do.” When people see the successes and hear the positive feedback, it creates
“When working to transform a company into a customer-focused, digital
organization,” Brian told us, “it’s immensely helpful to frame the leadership
scope as a mission that transcends organizational boundaries. Customers
don’t know which part of an organization they are dealing with! Limiting the
leadership model to the immediate team greatly limits the scope and speed of
impact a leader can have on transforming a complex customer journey
through an organization.”
This is definitely a leadership philosophy for a new era. It’s a 360-degree view
of leadership that is more inclusive and more open than what many people
have experienced in the past, and it produces results. In less than a year, this
collaborative effort at Capital One improved a multitude of customer
experiences. For example, customers saved hundreds of thousands of hours of
calling time in 2016 as a result of enhanced digital experiences and customer
touchpoints. The ratio of customer calls to accounts began a steady downward
trajectory to the lowest level since being measured—a major driver of
efficiency for the business. At the same time, scores tracking the percentage of
people recommending Capital One hit all-time highs.
For Anna Blackburn, “the values match was the biggest driver” in taking her
first job with Beaverbrooks the Jewellers, Limited, a family-owned retailer in
the United Kingdom. Eighteen years later, these same values drive her as its
chief executive officer—their first non-family member, and first female, to
hold that position. Honoring values is also at the heart of Anna’s PersonalBest Leadership Experience.3
Founded in 1919, Beaverbrooks has a long and honored history. Today it
operates seventy stores, has a significant online presence, and employs nearly
950 people. It’s not only dedicated to offering customers quality jewelry and
watches, it’s also very proud of its dedication to a mission of “enriching lives.”
Beaverbrooks contributes 20 percent of post-tax profits to charitable
organizations, and it invests heavily in its colleagues—which has earned the
company recognition by The Sunday Times (Britain’s largest-selling national
Sunday newspaper) for thirteen consecutive years as one of the 100 Best
Companies to Work For.
Anna’s appointment as CEO came at an unsettled time. Her predecessor, a
family member, left the company to pursue other ventures. The company had
veered away somewhat from its core strategy and culture, and colleagues
weren’t embracing the new ways. Her fifteen years with the company,
however, prepared Anna well for the challenge. Starting on the sales floor, she
had served in almost every role and function, worked in locations throughout
England and Scotland, and spent five years on the executive team.
None of that meant she could assume she knew what people wanted from her
in this new position. One of her first actions was to send out a survey inviting
everyone in Beaverbrooks to say what qualities they most wanted to see in the
new CEO. At the next annual managers’ conference, Anna shared the survey
results. People wanted her to be honest, inspiring, competent, forwardlooking, caring, ambitious, and supportive, she said, and she pledged to them
that she would do everything she could to live up to these expectations.
These actions were an early signal of how Anna intended to be a collaborative
and inclusive leader, and her next steps reinforced that aspiration. For
example, over the years, Beaverbrooks’s operations had become increasingly
complicated and formalized, and people had lost a sense of ownership in the
business. Instead of introducing any radical new direction, Anna initiated
changes that were “always within the context of building on our strengths,”
she said.
It was back to the basics and keeping things simple. Where strategies
often go wrong is that you lose connection with the person who’s going to
be making the biggest difference in your business. They needed to buy in
and understand the impact they were having.
A major disconnect that Anna observed was that even though Beaverbrooks
made The Sunday Times best company list year after year, profits were
relatively low. With a firm belief “that being a great workplace and having a
great environment should absolutely pay into the bottom line,” Anna set out
“to prove that being a great workplace is actually profitable.” However, she
wasn’t interested in Beaverbrooks being profitable simply for its own sake. She
told us that
Beaverbrooks is a business with a conscience. The more successful we are
financially, the better we can take care of the people who work for us and
the better we can support the wider community. The more successful we
are, the more good we can do.
Part of what needed to be done, Anna believed, was to create a greater sense of
shared accountability and responsibility: “We needed to have each and every
person ready to take their part in making the culture what it needed to be. One
person cannot fix, develop, or evolve a culture.” When feedback to the
executive level indicated that they worked too much in silos and were
disconnected from the stores, Anna introduced new ways to create greater
collaboration and synergy. The monthly executive team meetings, for
example, became much more focused on strategy, and the quarterly senior
manager and corporate office meetings dealt more with operational decisions
and with acknowledging the successes experienced in the stores.
Anna also continued the focus group tradition that chairman Mark Adlestone
had started: small group meetings of about eight people from similar roles.
Annually, she holds fourteen focus groups—six for sales teams, and two each
for managers, assistant managers, supervisors, and the office team. The
meetings last a half-day, and include discussions of what’s working and not
working, as well as acknowledgments of individual successes.
Given feedback from the focus groups, Anna devised a new framework for
talking about the business, a concept she called The Three Pillars. It is
depicted as three pillars standing on a solid base and capped by a header.
Written on the base is Beaverbrooks’s purpose: “Enriching Lives.” On the
header is the company name. The first pillar is labeled “Customer Service and
Selling”; the second is “Financial Success”; and the third is “Great Workplace.”
“The key thing,” Anna explains, “is that all three pillars are in alignment and
the same height. If one pillar were higher than the others, the roof would fall
Another of Anna’s major initiatives was a refresh of the Beaverbrooks Way, a
one-page document, originally published in 1998, that codified the purpose
and values of Beaverbrooks. It was not that the values had changed, but that
the document was incomplete and unclear. “There was nothing about being a
jeweler, and the family values were not referred to,” Anna told us. “The values
were also open to individual interpretation rather than stating what these
values mean in Beaverbrooks.” Anna wanted as many people as possible to
provide input on a revised Beaverbrooks Way, and she spent twelve months
gathering information. She asked questions about it in focus groups, she
talked about it with trainee managers, and she sent out feedback forms to all
the stores and departments.
She received extensive comments and, with the help of the regional managers,
created a supporting document that they introduced at the annual company
meeting. In her introduction to this thirty-two-page booklet, Anna wrote:
I received a lot of feedback about what you wanted to see from the
Beaverbrooks Way going forward. You asked for clear and simple
language, more explanation of our values and behaviors, and more of a
working document. This document is a result of your feedback . . . [It]
includes “The Beaverbrooks Way” (who we are, what we do, why we exist,
and our values) and highlights our behaviors—simply. Our behaviors are
defined by examples to help bring our culture to life.
As much as Anna’s attention focuses on improving business performance, she
also takes to heart her constituents’ desire for a caring and supportive leader.
For example, she told us, “We find as many excuses as possible to celebrate
successes. I think it’s important that people feel recognized and rewarded and
valued for the difference they make.” From quarterly business reviews with
regional managers to informal office gatherings, Anna takes the time to turn
the spotlight on those who do the right things. As they say in the Beaverbrooks
Way, “When we recognize what is working well and creating success, we are
more likely to repeat the behavior that helped create the success in the first
place.” Repeating behaviors that create success is paying off. In the most
recent ranking by The Sunday Times, Beaverbrooks was the top retailer on the
list. Profits were also at an all-time high, proving that you can be both a great
workplace and a profitable business.
Given her experiences, what’s the most important leadership lesson Anna
would pass along to emerging leaders? “Being a role model is absolutely key,”
she says. “It’s something I’ve held very close to me throughout my career,
whether it’s on the selling floor or in the executive office. People who model
the behaviors that are crucial to business success inspire others.”
The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership®
In undertaking their leadership challenges, Brian and Anna seized the
opportunity to change business as usual. And while their stories are
exceptional, they are not unlike countless others. We’ve been conducting
original global research for over thirty years, and we’ve discovered that such
achievements are commonplace. When we ask leaders to tell us about their
Personal-Best Leadership Experiences—experiences that they believe are their
individual standards of excellence—there are thousands of success stories just
like Brian’s and Anna’s. We’ve found them in profit-based firms and
nonprofits, agriculture and mining, manufacturing and utilities, banking and
healthcare, government and education, and the arts and community service.
These leaders are employees and volunteers, young and old, women and men.
Leadership knows no racial or religious bounds, no ethnic or cultural borders.
Leaders reside in every city and every country, in every function and every
organization. We find exemplary leadership everywhere we look. We’ve also
found that in excellent organizations, everyone, regardless of title or position,
is encouraged to act like a leader. In these places, people don’t just believe that
everyone can make a difference; they act in ways to develop and grow people’s
talents, including their leadership. They don’t subscribe to the many myths
that keep people from developing their leadership capabilities and
organizations from creating leadership cultures.4
One of the greatest myths about leadership is that some people have “it” and
some don’t. A corollary myth is that if you don’t have “it,” then you can’t learn
“it.” Neither could be further from the empirical truth. After reflecting on their
Personal-Best Leadership Experiences, people come to the same conclusion as
Tanvi Lotwala, revenue accountant at Bloom Energy: “All of us are born
leaders. We all have leadership qualities ingrained. All that we need is
polishing them up and bringing them to the forefront. It is an ongoing process
to develop ourselves as a leader, but unless we take on the leadership
challenges presented to us on a daily basis, we cannot become better at it.”
We first asked people in the early 1980s to tell us what they did when they
were at their “personal best” in leading others, and we continue to ask this
question of people around the world. After analyzing thousands of these
leadership experiences, we discovered, and continue to find, that regardless of
the times or settings, individuals who guide others along pioneering journeys
follow surprisingly similar paths. Although each experience was unique in its
individual expression, there were clearly identifiable behaviors and actions
that made a difference. When making extraordinary things happen in
organizations, leaders engage in what we call The Five Practices of Exemplary
Model the Way
Inspire a Shared Vision
Challenge the Process
Enable Others to Act
Encourage the Heart
These practices are not the private purview of the people we studied. Nor do
they belong to a few select shining stars. Leadership is not about personality.
It’s about behavior. The Five Practices are available to anyone who accepts the
leadership challenge—the challenge of taking people and organizations to
places they have never been before. It is the challenge of moving beyond the
ordinary to the extraordinary.
The Five Practices framework is not an accident of a special moment in
history. It has passed the test of time. While the context of leadership has
changed dramatically over the years, the content of leadership has not
changed much at all. The fundamental behaviors and actions of leaders have
remained essentially the same, and they are as relevant today as they were
when we began our study of exemplary leadership. The truth of each
individual Personal-Best Leadership Experience, multiplied thousands of
times, and substantiated empirically by millions of respondents and hundreds
of scholars, establishes The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership as an
“operating system” for leaders everywhere.
In the remainder of this chapter, we introduce each of The Five Practices and
provide brief examples that demonstrate how leaders, just like Brian and
Anna, across a variety of circumstances use them to make extraordinary
things happen. When you explore The Five Practices in depth in Chapters
Three through Twelve, you’ll find scores of illustrations from the real-life
experiences of people who have taken the leadership challenge.
Model the Way
Titles are granted, but it’s your behavior that earns you respect. When Terry
Callahan asks, “How can I help you?” he means it. One example was while vice
president for Miller Valentine Group, a real estate solution provider, they
needed to make an important community grand-opening event happen in
record time and it required an “all hands on deck” effort. What surprised the
team the most was when Terry removed his jacket, rolled up his sleeves, and
literally got down and dirty as he started mulching the landscape. “Terry
taught me that leadership is not about titles and ranks,” said one of his direct
reports, “but about personal responsibility and setting a positive example.”5
This sentiment reverberated across all the cases we collected. “At the end of
the day,” Toni Lejano, human resources manager at Cisco, recalled from her
Personal-Best Leadership Experience, “leadership is all about how you behave
that makes a difference.” Exemplary leaders know that if they want to gain
commitment and achieve the highest standards, they must be models of the
behavior they expect of others.
To effectively Model the Way, you must first be clear about your own guiding
principles. You must clarify values by finding your voice. When you
understand who you are and what your values are, then you can give voice to
those values. As Alan Spiegelman, wealth management advisor with
Northwestern Mutual, explained: “Before you can be a leader of others, you
need to know clearly who you are and what your core values are. Once you
know that, then you can give your voice to those values and feel comfortable
sharing them with others.”
Arpana Tiwari, senior manager with one of the world’s largest e-commerce
retailers, found that “the more I spoke with others about my values, the
clearer they became for me.” She realized, however, that her values weren’t the
only ones that mattered. Everyone on the team has principles that guide their
actions and, as a leader, you must affirm the shared values of the group. This
requires getting everyone involved in creating the values. Doing so, Arpana
observed, “makes it relatively easy to model the values that everyone has
agreed to.” Another benefit she realized was that “it is also less difficult to
confront people when they make decisions that are not aligned. When a value
is violated, leaders have to do or say something or they run the risk of sending
a message that this is not important.” Therefore, leaders must set the example.
Deeds are far more important than words when constituents want to
determine how serious leaders really are about what they say. Words and
deeds must be consistent.
Inspire a Shared Vision
People describe their Personal-Best Leadership Experiences as times when
they imagined an exciting, highly attractive future for their organizations.
They had visions and dreams of what could be. They had absolute and total
personal faith in their dreams, and they were confident in their abilities to
make those extraordinary things happen. Every organization, every social
movement, begins with a vision. It is the force that creates the future.
Leaders envision the future by imagining exciting and ennobling possibilities.
You need to have an appreciation of the past and a clear image of what the
results should look like even before starting any project, much as an architect
draws a blueprint or an engineer builds a model. As Ajay Aggrawal,
information technology (IT) project manager with Oracle, said, “You have to
connect to what’s meaningful to others and create the belief that people can
achieve something grand. Otherwise, people may fail to see how their work is
meaningful and their contributions fit into the big picture.”
You can’t command commitment; you have to inspire it. You have to enlist
others in a common vision by appealing to shared aspirations. Stephanie
Capron, Ritzman Pharmacies vice president of human resources, told us how
this family business, with over twenty-five locations, asked people within each
location and every department to create a vision board of what they saw the
future looking like, and then brought all of these together to create a shared
vision (and new brand). “We painted a big picture,” she said, “and got
everyone to see that picture so they could understand what great service
looked and felt like, and their part in it.”6 Too many people think that the
leader’s job is to come up with the vision when the reality is that people, like
those at Ritzman Pharmacies, want to be involved in the process. This
grassroots approach is much more effective than preaching one person’s
In these times of rapid change and uncertainty, people want to follow those
who can see beyond today’s difficulties and imagine a brighter tomorrow. As
Oliver Vivell, senior director, corporate development at SAP, points out,
“Others have to see themselves as part of that vision and as able to contribute
in order to embrace the vision and make it their own.” Leaders forge unity of
purpose by showing their constituents how the dream is a shared dream and
how it fulfills the common good.
When you express your enthusiasm and excitement for the vision, you ignite
that same passion in others. As Amy Matson Drohan, ON24’s senior customer
success manager, reflected on her Personal-Best Leadership Experience, she
observed that: “You can’t proselytize a vision that you don’t full-heartedly
believe.” Ultimately, she said, “The leader’s excitement shines through and
convinces the team that the vision is worthy of their time and support.”
Challenge the Process
Challenge is the crucible for greatness. Every single personal-best leadership
case involved a change from the status quo. Not one person achieved a
personal best by keeping things the same. Regardless of the specifics, they all
involved overcoming adversity and embracing opportunities to grow,
innovate, and improve.
Leaders are pioneers willing to step out into the unknown. However, leaders
aren’t the only creators or originators of new products, services, or processes.
Innovation comes more from listening than from telling, and from constantly
looking outside of yourself and your organization for new and innovative
products, processes, and services. You need to search for opportunities by
seizing the initiative and by looking outward for innovative ways to
Leaders don’t sit idly by waiting for fate to smile upon them; they venture out.
Taking risks was what Srinath Thurthahalli Nagaraj recalled about his
personal-best (and first) leadership experience in India with Flextronics.
“When things did not work as expected,” Srinath explained, “we kept on
experimenting and challenging one another’s ideas. You have to make room
for failure and more importantly the opportunity to learn from failure.” By
making something happen, Srinath was able to move the project forward.
Because innovation and change involve experimenting and taking risks, your
main contribution will be to create a climate for experimentation, the
recognition of good ideas, the support of those ideas, and the willingness to
challenge the system. One way of dealing with the potential risks and failures
of experimentation is by constantly generating small wins and learning from
experience. Pierfrancesco Ronzi, as the London-based engagement manager
with McKinsey and Company, recalled how successfully turning around the
credit process for a banking client in North Africa meant breaking the project
down into parts so that they could find a place to start, determine what would
work, and see how they could learn in the process of moving forward.
“Showing them that we were able to make something happen,” he said, “was a
significant boost to their confidence in the project and their willingness to stay
There’s a strong correlation between the process of learning and the approach
leaders take to making extraordinary things happen. Leaders are always
learning from their errors and failures. Life is the leader’s laboratory, and
exemplary leaders use it to conduct as many experiments as possible. Kinjal
Shah, senior manager at Quisk, told us how his personal best “taught me a lot.
I stumbled at places, many times, and got up, dusted myself off, learned from
it and tried to do better the next time around. I learned a lot, and the
experience definitely made me a better leader.”
Enable Others to Act
Grand dreams don’t become significant realities through the actions of a
single person. Achieving greatness requires a team effort. It requires solid
trust and enduring relationships. It requires group collaboration and
individual accountability, which begins, as Sushma Bhope, co-founder of
Stealth Technology Startup, appreciated, “by empowering those around you.”
She concluded, just as many others had when reviewing their personal-best
experiences, that “no one could have this done this alone. It was essential to be
open to all ideas and to give everyone a voice in the decision-making process.
The one guiding principle on the project was that the team was larger than any
individual on the team.”
Leaders foster collaboration by building trust and facilitating relationships.
You have to engage all those who must make the project work—and in some
way, all who must live with the results. General Wendy Masiello, director of
the U.S. Defense Contract Management Agency, articulated the importance of
being “one team, one voice” to over 600 leaders at their World Wide Training
Conference. To make this point, she asked everyone who had contracts with
Lockheed Martin to stand. A third of the room stood. She said, “Look around
the room at the people you need to team with during this conference. While in
sessions sit together, meet together, and share your experiences and
expertise.” She then asked those to stand who worked with Boeing, and then
with Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, and the like. Each time, she spoke the
same message and you could hear the sighs as people recognized how they had
not been operating as “One Team with One Voice.” As Wendy remarked, “This
will only be achieved when we have developed greater relationships with one
Leaders appreciate that constituents don’t perform at their best or stick
around for very long if they feel weak, dependent, or alienated. When you
strengthen others by increasing self-determination and developing
competence, they are more likely to give it their all and exceed their own
expectations. Omar Pualuan, head of engineering at RVision, reflecting on his
Personal-Best Leadership Experience, realized that “letting each member of
the team contribute to the project plan and make it their own was the most
important tool for success.”
Focusing on serving others’ needs rather than one’s own builds trust in a
leader. The more people trust their leaders, and each other, the more they take
risks, make changes, and keep moving ahead. Leaders have to create an
environment where, as Ana Sardeson, materials program manager at Nest,
told us, “individuals are comfortable with voicing their opinions, because then
the team feels empowered to take action. This level of comfort with decision
making is paramount to creating a space that is conducive to collaboration.”
She explained: “When the conversation shifts from a silo to an open and
collaborative space, relationships become stronger and more resilient.” When
people are trusted and have more information, discretion, and authority,
they’re much more likely to use their energies to produce extraordinary
Encourage the Heart
The climb to the top is arduous and steep, and people become exhausted,
frustrated, and disenchanted, and are often tempted to give up. Genuine acts
of caring draw people forward, which is an important lesson Denise Straka,
vice president, corporate insurance with Calpine, took away from her
Personal-Best Leadership Experience: “People want to know that their
managers believe in them and in their abilities to get a job done. They want to
feel valued by their employers, and acknowledging an accomplishment is a
great way to demonstrate their value.”
Leaders recognize contributions by showing appreciation for individual
excellence. It can be one to one or with many people. It can come from
dramatic gestures or simple actions. It can come from informal channels, just
as well as through the formal hierarchy. Eakta Malik, senior clinical research
associate with a global medical device company, realizing that many people
didn’t feel sufficiently appreciated, and lacked a sense of team cohesiveness,
organized some company-sponsored happy hours and team events, designed
“for the team to unwind, get to know each other on a personal level, and to
create a spirit of a community.” She publicly acknowledged her teammates’
hard work in bi-weekly meetings, which, she explained, “really lightens up the
mood. I used to think that having praise on a project looks better when it
comes from a director/manager, but I learned that praising someone doesn’t
have to be connected with having a title for it to be meaningful.”
Being a leader requires showing appreciation for people’s contributions and
creating a culture of celebrating the values and victories by creating a spirit
of community. One lesson that Andy Mackenzie, chief operating officer with
BioCardia, learned from his Personal-Best Leadership Experience was to
“make sure that you and the team are having fun. Every day won’t be fun, but
if it’s all drudgery, then it’s hardly worth getting out of bed for.”
Encouragement is, curiously, serious business because it’s how you visibly and
behaviorally link rewards with performance. Celebrations and rituals, when
done in an authentic way and from the heart, build a strong sense of collective
identity and community spirit that can carry a group through extraordinarily
tough times. As Deanna Lee, director of marketing strategy with MIG, told us:
“By bringing a team together after an important milestone, it reinforces the
fact that more can be accomplished together than apart. Engaging one another
outside of the work setting also increases personal connection, which builds
trust, improves communication, and strengthens the bonds within the team.”
Recognitions and celebrations need to be personal and personalized. As Eddie
Tai, project director with Pacific Eagle Holdings, realized, “There’s no way to
fake it.” In telling us about his experiences, he noted, “Encouraging the Heart
might very well be the hardest job of any leader because it requires the most
honesty and sincerity.” Yet this leadership practice, he maintained, “can have
the most significant and long-lasting impact on those it touches and inspires.”
These five leadership practices—Model the Way, Inspire a Shared Vision,
Challenge the Process, Enable Others to Act, and Encourage the Heart—
provide an operating system for what people are doing as leaders when at
they are at their best, and there’s abundant empirical evidence that these
leadership practices matter. Hundreds of studies have reported that The Five
Practices make a positive difference in the engagement and performance of
people and organizations.8 This is highlighted in the next section, and more of
the research supporting this operating system is reported in subsequent
The Five Practices Make a Difference
Exemplary leader behavior makes a profoundly positive difference in people’s
commitment and motivation, their work performance, and the success of their
organizations. That’s the definitive conclusion from analyzing responses from
nearly three million people around the world using the Leadership Practices
Inventory (LPI) to assess how often their leaders engage in The Five Practices
of Exemplary Leadership. Those leaders who more frequently use The Five
Practices are considerably more effective than their counterparts who use
them less frequently.
In these studies, the leader’s direct reports complete the LPI indicating how
frequently they observe their leader engaging in the specific behaviors
associated with The Five Practices. In addition, they respond to ten questions
regarding (a) their feelings about their workplace, for example, levels of
satisfaction, pride, and commitment, and (b) assessments about their leader
on such things as trustworthiness and overall effectiveness. There is an
unambiguous relationship between how engaged
Figure 1.1 The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership Impacts the
Engagement Level of Direct Reports
people are and how frequently they observe their leaders using The Five
Practices, as shown in Figure 1.1. Nearly 96 percent of direct reports who are
most highly engaged (i.e., in the top third of the distribution) indicate that
their leaders very frequently or almost always use The Five Practices. In
contrast, less than 5 percent of direct reports are highly engaged when they
indicate that their leaders seldom use The Five Practices (at best, only once in
a while). The differential impact is huge.
In addition, respondents provide information about who they are and their
organizational context. Multivariate analyses show that individual
characteristics and organizational context combined explain less than 1
percent of the distribution connected with the engagement levels of their
reports, while The Five Practices account for nearly 40 percent of the variance.
How their leaders behave significantly influences engagement, and is
independent of who the direct reports are (e.g., age, gender, ethnicity, or
education), or their circumstance (e.g., position, tenure, discipline, industry,
or nationality). How their leader behaves is what makes a difference in
explaining why people work hard, their commitment, pride, and productivity.
The more you use The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership, the more likely
it is that you’ll have a positive influence on other people and the organization.
That’s what all the data adds up to: if you want to have a significant impact on
people, on organizations, and on communities, you’d be wise to invest in
learning the behaviors that enable you to become the very best leader you can.
Moreover, the data clearly shows that how strongly direct reports would
“recommend their leader to a colleague” directly links with the extent to which
they report their leader using The Five Practices.
Many scholars have documented that leaders who engage in The Five
Practices are more effective than those who don’t.9 This is true whether the
context is inside or outside the United States, in the public or private sector, or
within schools, healthcare organizations, business firms, prisons, churches,
and so on. Here are just a few examples of the impact of leaders who use The
Five Practices more frequently than their counterparts:
Create higher-performing teams
Generate increased sales and customer satisfaction levels
Foster renewed loyalty and greater organizational commitment
Enhance motivation and the willingness to work hard
Facilitate high patient-satisfaction scores and more effectively meet
family member needs
Promote high degrees of student and teacher involvement in schools
Enlarge the membership size of their religious congregations
Reduce absenteeism, turnover, and dropout rates
Positively influence recruitment yields
While The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership don’t completely explain
why leaders and their organizations are successful, it’s very clear that engaging
in them makes quite a difference no matter who you are or where you are
located. How you behave as a leader matters, and it matters a lot.
Furthermore, evaluations of the effectiveness of the leader by their direct
reports, and others, correlate directly with how frequently The Five Practices
are used.
Consider these findings at a macro level. Researchers examined the financial
performance of organizations over a five-year period and compared those that
constituents rated senior leaders as actively using The Five Practices with
organizations whose leaders were significantly less engaged in The Five
Practices. The bottom line: net income growth was nearly eighteen times
higher, and stock price growth was nearly three times greater for those
publicly traded organizations whose leadership strongly engaged in The Five
Practices than their counterparts.10
The Ten Commitments of Exemplary Leadership
Embedded in The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership are behaviors that
can serve as the basis for becoming an exemplary leader. We call these The
Ten Commitments of Exemplary Leadership (Table 1.1). They focus on
behaviors and actions you need to be comfortable with engaging in. These ten
commitments serve as the template for explaining, understanding,
appreciating, and learning how leaders get extraordinary things done in
organizations, and each of them is discussed in depth in Chapters Three
through Twelve. Before we go into depth on each of these commitments, let’s
next consider leadership from the standpoint of the constituent. Leadership,
after all, is a relationship. What do people look for in a leader? What do people
want from someone whose direction they’d be willing to follow?
Table 1.1 The Five Practices and Ten Commitments of Exemplary Leadership
Copyright © 1987 –2017. James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner. The
Leadership Challenge. All rights reserved. For permission to reproduce for
educational purposes, contact the publisher, John Wiley & Sons.
1. Unless otherwise noted, all quotations are from personal interviews, from
Personal-Best Leadership Experience case studies, or leadership reflections
written by the respondent leaders. The titles and affiliations of the leaders
quoted may be different today from what they were at the time of their case
study or publication of this edition. In a few instances when leaders have
asked us not to use their real names, we have used pseudonyms for ease of
discussion. All other details of the example are the respondent’s actual
2. We are grateful to Steve Coats for providing this example, expanded by
further interviews.
3. We are grateful to Natalie Loeb for providing this example, expanded by
further interviews.
4. More information about the myths that keep people from fully developing
as leaders can be found in J. M. Kouzes and B. Z. Posner, Learning
Leadership: The Five Fundamentals of Becoming an Exemplary Leader
(San Francisco: The Leadership Challenge—A Wiley Brand, 2016).
5. We are grateful to Valarie Willis for providing this example.
6. We are grateful to Valarie Willis for providing this example.
7. We are grateful to Joseph Hines for providing this example.
8. More information about the research methodology and findings can be
found in B. Z. Posner, “Bringing the Rigor of Research to the Art of
Leadership: Evidence Behind The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership
and the LPI: Leadership Practices Inventory,” section-Our-AuthorsResearch-Detail/bringing-the-rigor-of-research-to-the-art-ofleadership.aspx.
9. Posner, “Bringing the Rigor,” and J. M. Kouzes and B. Z. Posner, LPI:
Leadership Practices Inventory, 4th ed. (San Francisco: The Leadership
Challenge—A Wiley Brand, 2012),
10. R. Roi, Leadership Practices, Corporate Culture, and Company Financial
Performance: 2005 Study Results (Palo Alto, CA: Crawford and Associates
International, 2006),
For a list of hundreds of scholarly articles examining how The Five
Practices impacts engagement and performance, see Posner, “Bringing the
Chapter 2
Credibility Is the Foundation of Leadership
The inescapable conclusion from analyzing thousands of Personal-Best
Leadership Experiences is that everyone has a story to tell. Moreover, these
experiences are much more similar in terms of actions, behaviors, and
processes than they are different, regardless of context. The data clearly
challenges the myths that leadership is something that you find only at the
highest levels of organizations and society and that it’s something reserved for
only a handful of charismatic men and women. The notion that there are only
a few great people who can lead others to greatness is just plain wrong.
Likewise, it is wrong to suggest that leaders come only from large, or small, or
already great, or new organizations, or from established economies, or from
certain industries, functions, or disciplines. The truth is leadership is an
identifiable set of skills and abilities that are available to anyone. It is because
there are so many—not so few—leaders that extraordinary things happen on a
regular basis in organizations, especially in times of great uncertainty.
Another crucial truth that weaves itself throughout every situation and every
leadership action is that Personal-Best Leadership Experiences are never
stories about solo performances. Leaders never make extraordinary things
happen all by themselves. Leaders mobilize others to want to struggle for
shared aspirations, and this means that, fundamentally, leadership is a
relationship. Leadership is a relationship between those who aspire to lead
and those who choose to follow. You can’t have one without the other. To lead
effectively you have to appreciate fully the fundamental dynamics of the
leader-constituent relationship. A leader- constituent relationship
characterized by fear and distrust will never produce anything of lasting value.
A relationship characterized by mutual respect and confidence will overcome
the greatest adversities and leave a legacy of significance.
That is precisely what Yamin Durrani told us about his relationship with
Bobby Matinpour, marketing manager at National Semiconductor, now part
of Texas Instruments, who came aboard just after the company had gone
through a massive reorganization followed by a huge layoff. “Company-wide
there was a general lack of motivation, sense of mistrust, insecurity, and
everyone was looking after their own interest,” Yamin said. “Our group in
particular was suffering from low motivation, as we didn’t trust each other. I
dreaded going to the office and there was too much internal competition
leading to breakdowns in communication.”
Bobby realized that he was going to have to get people to trust one another.
His very first initiative was to sit with individual team members to understand
their desires, needs, and plans. For the first month, he spent most of the time
learning and trying to understand what each person aspired to and enjoyed
doing. He held weekly one-on-one meetings with individual team members,
asked questions, and listened attentively to what they had to say. “His friendly
style and honest, straightforward approach,” said Yamin, “led team members
to open up and feel secure. He never acted as if he knew everything and was
open to learning new things from the team. Bobby understood that he couldn’t
gain the respect of the team without respecting them and allowing them the
freedom to take ownership of their projects. Bobby opened up lines of
communication within the team, especially by encouraging greater face-toface interactions.”
In management meetings when a question was asked, even though he could
have provided the answer himself, Bobby typically referred it to one of his
team members, stating, for example, “Yamin is an expert on this topic. I will
let him answer this question.” During the annual sales conference, attended by
hundreds of company employees, he let the most junior team member make
the group presentation, while the whole team stood behind the presenter to
answer questions. Yamin observed that:
Being new to the group, Bobby could have easily fallen into the trap of
trying to prove himself by individually contributing in projects, or acting
as a gatekeeper for information flow; however, he opted to trust his team
members on projects and took advice from them as for the approach to
take on a particular project. He never forced his ideas. In other words,
“my way or the highway” was not his style. He encouraged team members
to take initiative and acted as an advisor on projects, and let the
ownership remain with the individual team member.
The results of Bobby’s leadership were significant. The unit’s revenue
increased by 25 percent, and the product pipeline overflowed with product
ideas. Team spirit soared, people felt engaged, and a general sense of
collaboration and teamwork developed. “I personally had not felt more
empowered and trusted ever before,” Yamin told us. “From this experience
I’ve realized that great leaders grow their followers into leaders themselves.”
As Bobby so well demonstrated in the way he focused on others and not on
himself, success in leadership, success in work, and success in life are a
function of how well people work and play together. Because leadership is a
reciprocal process between leaders and their constituents, any discussion of
leadership has to appreciate the dynamics of this relationship. Strategies,
tactics, skills, and practices are empty without an understanding of the
fundamental human aspirations that connect leaders and their constituents.
Model the Way, Inspire a Shared Vision, Challenge the Process, Enable Others
to Act, and Encourage the Heart are the leadership practices that emerge from
thousands of personal-best leadership cases. However, they paint only a
partial portrait of what’s going on because leaders don’t make extraordinary
things happen all by themselves. The full picture requires an understanding
and appreciation of what constituents expect from their leaders. You earn
leadership from the people you aspire to lead. People choose, on a daily basis,
whether they are going to follow and commit completely their talents, time,
and energy. In the end, leaders don’t decide who leads, followers do.
Leadership is something you experience in an interaction with another human
being. That experience varies from leader to leader, from constituent to
constituent, and from day to day. No two leaders are exactly alike, no two
constituent groups are exactly alike, and no two days in the life of leaders and
constituents are exactly alike. Great leadership potential is discovered, and
unlocked, when you seek to understand the desires and expectations of your
constituents, and when you act on them in ways that are congruent with their
norms and image of what an exemplary leader is and does. What leaders say
they do is one thing; what constituents say they want and how well leaders
meet these expectations is another. Knowing what people want from their
leaders is the only way to complete the picture of how leaders can build and
sustain the kind of relationships that will make extraordinary things happen.
What People Look for and Admire in Their Leaders
To understand leadership as a relationship, we have investigated the
expectations that constituents have of leaders.1 Over the years, we have asked
people to tell us the personal traits, characteristics, and attributes they look
for and admire in a person whom they would be willing to follow. The
responses both affirm and enrich the picture that emerged from studies of
personal leadership bests.
Our research on what constituents expect of leaders originally began by
surveying thousands of business and government executives. In response to
the open-ended question about what they looked for in a person they would be
willing to follow, hundreds of different values, traits, and characteristics were
reported.2 Subsequent content analysis by independent judges, followed by
further empirical analyses, reduced these items to a checklist of twenty
attributes, which we call the Characteristics of Admired Leaders (CAL).
Using CAL, we ask people to select the seven qualities that they “most look for
and admire in a leader, someone whose direction they would willingly follow.”
The key word in the preceding sentence is “willingly.” It’s one thing to follow
someone because you think you have to “or else,” and it’s another when you
follow a leader because you want to. What do people expect from an
individual they would follow, not because they have to, but because they want
to? What does it take to be the kind of leader that others want to follow, doing
so enthusiastically and voluntarily?
Over 100,000 people around the globe have responded to the CAL checklist.
The survey results have been remarkable in their consistency over the years,
as the data in Table 2.1 illustrates. There are some essential “character tests”
individuals must pass before others are willing to grant them the designation
While every characteristic receives votes, meaning that each is important to
some people, what is most evident and striking is that for over three decades,
there are only four qualities that have always received more than 60 percent of
the votes (with the exception of Inspiring in 1987, which was valued by 58
percent at that time). Despite all the dramatic changes in the world, what
people most look for in a leader has been amazingly stable.
Table 2.1 Characteristics of Admired Leaders
For the majority of people to follow someone willingly, they want a leader who
they believe is
In addition, these same four characteristics rank consistently at the top across
different countries as shown by the data in Table 2.2. We also found that the
ranking doesn’t significantly vary across cultures, ethnicities, organizational
functions and hierarchies, genders, levels of education, and age groups (and
we’ll say a bit more about this shortly).
Table 2.2 Characteristics of Admired Leaders (CAL) Around the World (Rank
Order by Country)
The examination of admired leader attributes is very consistent with hundreds
of interviews we’ve conducted, asking people to tell us about the most credible
leader they have ever experienced. Compare how the characteristics of honest,
competent, forward-looking, and inspiring are embedded into what Melinda
Jackson, corporate recruiter for a multinational technology company, told us
about her most admired leader: “I remember her deep knowledge of the work,
clear vision for the future, incredible support and care for those around her,
and her stark authenticity. She believed wholeheartedly in what we were doing
and led with a fervor that encouraged even my most pessimistic co-workers to
follow.” Such stories and the characteristics of admired leaders mirror the
actions people describe in their Personal-Best Leadership Experiences. The
Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership and the behaviors of people admired
as leaders are complementary perspectives on the same subject. When they’re
performing at their peak, leaders are doing more than just getting results.
They’re also responding to the behavioral expectations of their constituents,
underscoring the point that the relationship is one of service to a purpose and
service to people.
As we weave the themes of being honest, forward-looking, competent, and
inspiring into the text of the subsequent chapters on The Five Practices, you’ll
see in more detail how exemplary leaders respond to the needs of their
constituents. For example, being regarded as honest is essential if a leader is
to Model the Way. The leadership practice of Inspire a Shared Vision requires
being forward-looking and inspiring. When leaders Challenge the Process,
they also enhance the perception that they’re dynamic. Trustworthiness, often
a synonym for honesty, plays a major role in how leaders Enable Others to
Act, as does the leader’s own competency. Likewise, leaders who recognize
and celebrate significant contributions and accomplishments—who Encourage
the Heart—increase their constituents’ understanding of and commitment to
the vision and values. When leaders demonstrate capacity in all of The Five
Practices, they show others they have the competence to make extraordinary
things happen.
Let’s examine why each of these characteristics is essential for creating a
sustainable relationship between those who would be willing to follow and
those who aspire to lead others. We’ll also discover in the process the
foundation on which leaders must build that sustainable relationship.
In every survey we’ve conducted, honesty is selected more often than any
other leadership characteristic. Overall, it emerges as the single most
important factor in the leader-constituent relationship. The percentages vary,
but the final ranking does not. First and foremost, people want a leader who is
It’s clear that if people anywhere are to willingly follow someone—whether it’s
into battle or the boardroom, in the front office or on the production floor—
they first want to be sure that the individual is worthy of their trust. They want
to know that the person is truthful, ethical, and principled. When people talk
to us about the qualities they admire in leaders, they often use “integrity” and
“authentic” as synonyms for honesty. No matter what the setting, people want
to be fully confident in their leaders, and to be fully confident they have to
believe that their leaders are individuals of authentic character and solid
integrity. That over 80 percent of constituents want their leaders to be honest
above all else is a message that every leader must take to heart. “After all,”
Jennifer McRae, an engineer with the City of San Jose, explained: “Why would
you want to follow someone if you suspected that they were lying or trying to
trick you? Honesty is the basis of trust and you have to believe that what the
leader speaks or knows is true.”
Of all the qualities that people look for and admire in a leader, honesty is by
far the most personal. People want their leaders to be honest because a
leader’s honesty is also a reflection upon their own honesty. It’s the quality
that can most enhance or most damage personal reputations. If you follow
someone who’s universally viewed as having impeccable character and strong
integrity, then you’re likely to be viewed the same. If you willingly follow
someone who’s considered dishonest and unethical, your own image is
tarnished. In addition, there’s perhaps another, subtler, reason why honesty is
at the top. When people follow someone they believe to be dishonest, they
come to realize that they’ve compromised their own integrity. Over time, they
not only lose respect for the leader, they lose respect for themselves. As Anand
Reddy, senior engineering manager at Intel, explained: “A failure of honesty
poisons the team, damages the trust between people, and breaks down team
cohesion. Besides, nobody wants to follow a leader who is not honest.”
Honesty is strongly tied to values and ethics. Constituents appreciate leaders
who take a stand on important principles. People resolutely refuse to follow
those who lack confidence in their own beliefs. Confusion over where the
leader stands creates stress. Not knowing the leader’s beliefs contributes to
conflict, indecision, and political rivalry. People simply don’t trust leaders who
can’t or won’t disclose or live by a clear set of values, ethics, and standards.
You really are only as good as your word in the eyes of those you aspire to
To enlist in another’s cause, people must believe that the leader is competent
to guide them along the path to the future. They must see the leader as capable
and effective. “Competence is important,” explained Kevin Schultz, assurance
associate at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, “because it is difficult to
wholeheartedly follow someone who does not know what they are doing.” If
people doubt the leader’s abilities, they’re not going readily to enlist in the
crusade. Studies point out that when people perceive their leader as
incompetent, they reject the individual as well as…
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