The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership

James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner in their book, The Leadership Challenge, said that when getting extraordinary things done in organization, leaders engage in these Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership:

  • Model the Way  – Titles are granted, but it’s your behavior that wins your respect.  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. Leaders model the way. To model the way, a leader must have integrity, that is, his words and deeds match up.

Modeling the way is about earning the right and the respect to lead through direct involvement and action.

People follow first the person, then the plan.

John Maxwell said that leaders add infinite weight to their words by incarnating the principles they teach.

  • Inspire a Shared Vision – People always have a dream or a vision of an exciting and highly attractive future for their organization. The dream or vision is the force that invents the future.  Leaders inspire a shared vision.

  • Challenge the Process – Leaders face the challenge of changing from the status quo.  All leaders challenge the process.  They search for opportunities to innovate, grow and improve. They know well that innovation and change involve experimenting and taking risks.  Despite the inevitability of mistakes and failures leaders proceed anyway.
  • Enable Others to Act – To turn dream or vision into significant reality, it requires team effort, solid trust and relationship.  It requires deep competence and cool confidence.  It requires group collaboration and individual accountability.  Leaders have to enable others to act.

In today’s virtual organizations, cooperation can’t be restricted to a small group of loyalists; it  must include peers, managers, customers and clients, suppliers, citizens – all those who have a stake in the vision.

  • Encourage the Heart – The climb to the top is arduous and long which make people exhausted, frustrated and disenchanted.  They’re often tempted to give up.  Leaders encourage the heart of their constituents to carry on.  Genuine acts of caring uplift the spirits and draw people forward.

Many of today’s leaders fail to turn their vision into reality because they do not act as role models to their employees.  By not modeling the behavior they expect from their people, leaders could not influence their people to perform what are required from them.

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