Nightingale-Conant

LEADERSHIP IS EVERYONE'S BUSINESS

by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner


The true heroes of leadership are the ordinary people
who get extraordinary things done.

They are the men and women from all over the globe, from all walks of life and of all ages, and from a variety of organizations, public and private, government and NGOs, high-tech and low-tech, small and large, schools and professional services, who daily struggle to lead us to greatness. They're not the public figures, the famous people, or the mega-stars. They're the people who might live next door or work in the next cubicle over.

We've focused our 25 years research and writing on everyday leaders because leadership is not about position or title. Leadership is not about organizational power or authority. It's not about celebrity or wealth. It's not about the family you are born into. It's not about being a CEO, president, general, or prime minister. Leadership is about relationships, about credibility, and about what you do.

You Are the Most Important Leader
in Your Organization

If you're a manager in an organization, to your direct reports you are the most important leader in your organization. You are more likely than any other leader to influence their desire to stay or leave, the trajectory of their careers, their ethical behavior, their ability to perform at their best, their drive to wow customers, their satisfaction with their jobs, and their motivation to share the organization's vision and values.

If you're a parent, teacher, coach, or community leader, you are the person who's setting the leadership example for young people. It's not hip-hop artists, movie stars, or professional athletes they seek guidance from. You are the one they are most likely going to look to for the example of how a leader responds to competitive situations, handles crises, deals with loss, or resolves ethical dilemmas. It's not someone else. It's you.

The leaders who have the most influence on us are those who are the closest to us. We have to challenge the myth that leadership is about position and power. And, once challenged, people can come to see leadership in a whole new light. Yukari Huguenard, an everyday leader we interviewed, told us how much he had changed his view of leadership after he had examined his assumptions:

I used to think leaders had to be at the top level of a large organization. With that view of leadership, the chasm between where I am and being a leader was uncrossable. Now, I see leaders leading a group of people of any size and leading at any level. You are a leader if you employ these five leadership practices because people around you want to follow. In that sense, I feel that I'm already a leader.

There's no escape. Leadership is everyone's business. No matter what your position is, you have to take responsibility for the quality of leadership your constituents get. You—and that means all of us—are accountable for the leadership you demonstrate. And, because you are the most important leader to those closest to you, the only choice you really have is whether or not to be the best leader you can be.

Leadership Is Learned

The notion that leadership is reserved for only a very few of us is reinforced every time someone asks, "Are leaders born or made?" Whenever we're asked this question—which is almost every time we give a speech or conduct a class or workshop—our answer, always offered with a smile, is this: "Yes, of course, all leaders are born. We've never met a leader who wasn't. So are all accountants, artists, athletes, parents, zoologists, you name it." We're all born. What we do with what we have before we die is up to us.

It's just pure myth that only a lucky few can ever understand the intricacies of leadership. Leadership is not a gene, and it's not a secret code that can't be deciphered by ordinary people. The truth is that leadership is an observable set of skills and abilities that are useful whether one is in the executive suite or on the front line, on Wall Street, Beijing Financial Street, or Main Street, in any campus, community, or corporation. And any skill can be strengthened, honed, and enhanced, given the motivation and desire, along with practice and feedback, role models, and coaching.

We've been fortunate to have heard and read the stories of thousands of ordinary people who've led others to get extraordinary things done. And there are millions more. It's not the absence of leadership potential that inhibits the development of more leaders; it's the persistence of the myth that leadership can't be learned. This haunting myth is a far more powerful deterrent to leadership development than is the nature of the person or the basics of the leadership process.

The experience of Juan Gonzalez is typical of the leaders we've worked with around the world. Juan told us that taking the view that leadership was a set of practices was a good start for understanding that leadership was everyone's business, and this approach offered him a new perspective on the world of human interaction by demystifying the notion of natural born leaders and, if anything. The fact that leaders can learn to be leaders though self-awareness and effort opens the possibility that individuals have a choice about pursuing or ignoring the calling of leadership. Not everyone will be a leader of historical proportions; however, we all can and should assume leadership roles in our regular activities more often than not.

Certainly, we shouldn't mislead people into believing that they can attain unrealistic goals. However, neither should we assume that only a few would ever attain excellence in leadership (or in any other human endeavor). We do know that those who are most successful at bringing out the best in others are those who set achievable "stretch” goals and believe that they have the ability to develop the talents of others. We know that effective leaders are constantly learning. They see all experiences as learning experiences, not just those sessions in a formal classroom or workshop. They're constantly looking for ways to improve themselves and their organizations. Even if some people think that they're not able to learn to lead, you must believe that you and they can. That's where it all starts—with your own belief in yourself and in others.

Article by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner
Originally Published by AdvantEdge for Nightingale-Conant Corporation © 2008

The single most important trait
to inspire greatness in others:
Credibility.

Every move ahead in your business or in your career means more responsibility and more people who answer to you directly or who follow your example.

As you progress, others look up to you. What do they think of you? How are you perceived by those above you?

Do you have personal authority, or only position authority? Do you inspire great performances, or do you demand them?

What are the issues that really matter in your role as a leader? Do you need to be well liked? Respected? Feared?

James M. Kouzes, a world-renowned expert on the nature of leadership, has spent many years looking into the answers to questions like these. He is fascinated by the distinctions that give some people the ability to get better performances out of everyone around them. Jim lets us know that everyone is a leader in some size, shape, or form. Whether you are a manager at your office, a CEO, a manager of your youth baseball team, a leader in scouting or at your local church, entrepreneur or a project manager at your job, the tools and techniques that Achieving Credibility gives you will provide inspiration and success at any level.

In an effort to discover the key to effective leadership, he and his research partners have culled data from more than 15,000 surveys, 400 case studies, and 40 in-depth interviews. Based on this research, he has identified one trait as the cornerstone of all leadership: Above all else, people expect their leaders to possess credibility.

In Achieving Credibility: The Key to Effective Leadership, you’ll find a truly human approach to leadership, one that identifies and focuses on the traits we all admire in other people. Kouzes helps you put your finger on the intangibles that make some people simply stand head and shoulders above their peers. And most of all, you’ll come to understand why building credibility is such a fundamental aspect of the leadership process.

This is a personally inspiring guide, a must-listen for all managers, leaders, entrepreneurs, and professionals who can’t do their job alone. Listen thoughtfully and discover:

  • The six disciplines of credibility
  • How to readily establish trust with others
  • Specific ways to promote education and deeper understanding among employees
  • How to regain credibility if you’ve lost it
  • The technique of conflict resolution on the basis of principles rather than positions
  • How to cultivate the qualities in yourself that all people look for in a leader
  • How you can reach your maximum potential by motivating others to reach theirs

And a lot more

If your desire is to create the perfect work environment—where people are motivated, trust one another, and share similar goals and visions—and to establish an atmosphere of hope regardless of what your organization is going through, then Achieving Credibility is the blueprint for you.

In our era of companies that we hear negative things about almost weekly, where leadership is mistrusted and the foundational principles of organizations are abandoned, where the bottom line is the only thing observed, Jim Kouzes gives us a breath of fresh air and hope that you can build an organization for which good morals and values are the foundation and which can be extremely successful. His powerful examples are throughout this program. You will be inspired.

While leadership is Kouzes’ main thrust, his themes of trust, honesty, sensitivity to diversity, sustaining hope, and engendering community are skills for anyone who works with people. With employees, with bosses, with customers, with vendors, with business partners, with family and friends ... we need to be credible with all the people in our lives to accomplish almost any objective we set for ourselves.

High levels of hope AND credibility are the cornerstones
of all leadership.


Achieving Credibility

Achieving Credibility

The Key to Effective Leadership

by James M. Kouzes

I want to accomplish almost any objective I set for myself by being credible with all the people in my life.

Please send me James Kouzes's
Achieving Credibility at the special price below. — I can select one of two ways of ordering.

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