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Author The Leadership
An excerpt from the Book by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner

Traducir al Español

Definition of Leadership

Leadership is the art of mobilizing other people so that they want to make an effort and to achieve shared aspirations and objectives.

The four essential qualities of the leaders:

The leaders should be:

  • Honest,

  • Look toward the Future,

  • Serve as inspiration and

  • Be competent.

The five keys to Leadership

Key # 1: To Challenge the status quo

The leaders look for opportunities to change the status quo, they look for innovative forms of improving the organization, they experience and they assume risks. Assuming risks implies making mistakes and errors, and suffer failures, the leaders accept the unavoidable disillusions as learning opportunities.

Key # 2: To Inspire a shared vision

The leaders believe passionately that they can contribute important things, they visualize the future creating an ideal and unique image of what the organization can end up being. With conviction and persuasion, the leaders invite others to share the dream.

Key # 3: To Encourage others to act

The leaders promote the collaboration and they build lively teams. They are involved actively with the others and believe in confidential atmospheres and dignity. Strengthen others by sharing information and offering options and this way they get each person to feel capable and powerful.

Key # 4: To Become a model

The leaders create standards of excellence and  constitute themselves in examples and models. They establish the values on how the colleagues or the clients should be treated, how the goals should be reached, they alleviate the bureaucratic issues that undermine the real action, they help people when they are unsure of where to go or how to arrive and create opportunities to reach success.

Key # 5: Aim to the heart

To achieve extraordinary tasks in an organization is an arduous work. 
To maintain alive the hope and the determination the leaders recognize the contributions that each person makes and their achievements in such a way that each person can feel as a true hero.

The Ten Commitments of the Leadership:



To challenge the" Status Quo"

1. To look for opportunities to change, to grow, to innovate, to improve 
2. To experience, to assume risks and to learn from the errors

To inspire a Shared Vision

3. To visualize an inspiring and noble future. 
4. To enlist others in a Common Vision, attracting their best values, interests, hopes and dreams

To encourage others to Act

5. To encourage the collaboration promoting cooperative goals and building trust 
6. To strengthen people empowering them, giving them options, developing their skills

To become Model

7. To provide example behaving in a consistent way with the shared values 
8. To achieve small successes that promote the consistent progress and build commitment

To aim to the Heart

9. To recognize the individual contributions to the success of each project 
10. To regularly celebrate the achievements of the team

Why don't we have more leaders?

Our first challenge as leaders is to come off of traditional teachings and popular myths regarding the leadership.

The traditional teachings about management:

  • They sustain that an ideal organization is ordered and stable and that the organizational process must work as a clock. The exemplary leaders want to change things, "they shake" the organizations and challenge the processes.

  • The managers focus in the short term. The effective leaders think of the long term. They come beyond the horizon of the present.

  • The management expects leaders to be cold, distant and analytic. But when we converse with true leaders really find that they speak of their passions, of the challenges they have to face day by day, of their kindness and their love for what they do.

  • They suggest that the manager's main work is primarily "control". Control of resources including time, money, materials, and people. The real leaders, however, know that the more they try to control others, the less trust they will develop. The leaders don't command neither control, but rather they serve and support.

The Popular Myths:

  • They depict the leader like a renegade that it is able to attract a band of followers by means of valiant acts. But the leaders do not attract followers by being defiant, but through their deep faith in the human capacity to adapt, to grow, and to learn.

  • They say that leaders are charismatic and gifted. When we know them we find that they are energetic and enthusiastic, but their dynamism doesn't come from special powers but from strong beliefs in a purpose and their disposition to express that conviction.

  • They sustain that a leader is alone at the top. But the most effective leaders are involved and in close contact with those they lead.

  • They associate the leadership with a "superior" position. Those who are in the top are automatically "leaders". But the leadership is not a place, it is a process.

  • They stress that the leadership is reserved for a few ones. Are the leaders born or are they made?, we wonder. But the leadership is not transmitted genetically. The leadership is a set of practical observable actions that anyone can learn and it is therefore, a task for all

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This page last updated on

3 February, 2009 13:13









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