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The Leadership Challenge, 4th Edition Paperback – August 4, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0787984922 ISBN-10: 0787984922 Edition: 4th

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 4 edition (August 4, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0787984922
  • ISBN-13: 978-0787984922
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (139 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,901 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Guest Reviewer: Marshall Goldsmith
Marshall Goldsmith has been recognized by almost every major business publication as one of America's leading executive educators and coaches. He is the author or co-editor of 22 books, including What Got You Here Won't Get You There--a New York Times bestseller and Wall Street Journal #1 business book.

I consider Leadership Challenge by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner to be the best research-based book ever written in the field of leadership.

What I love about this book is that it is actually written for its readers!

Let's face it--very few readers of business books are CEO's of multi-billion corporations. Yet many business books follow the same over-used formula--interviewing CEOs--talking about what they are doing so well--and suggesting that you do the same thing.

Leadership Challenge is based upon learnings from leaders at all levels--and shows how "regular people" can make a huge, positive difference in their organizations. It is written in a way that can help executives, mid-managers, first-line supervisors, project leaders--and even individual contributors--better understand how they can lead--and be able to immediately apply what they have learned in their work.

My favorite movie is The Wizard of Oz. Three of the movie's main characters are seekers: the scarecrow--who is searching for a brain--or wisdom, the tin man--who is searching for a heart--or compassion, and the lion--who is searching for the nerve--or courage. Leadership Challenge helps its readers, who are also seekers, find all three. It shows how real leaders can demonstrate the wisdom--needed to build a vision and show the way, the courage--needed to the challenge the system and do what is right, and the compassion--needed to care for and inspire others.

Although my Ph.D. is in Organizational Behavior, my undergraduate background is in mathematics. I respect people who gather real facts and don't just "shoot from the hip." Jim and Barry have developed the "Leadership Practices Inventory"--which is possibly the world's most widely-respected tool for 360° leadership feedback. They have thoroughly reviewed input from tens of thousands of respondents and used this data to form sound conclusions about what works--and what doesn’t work--in terms of leadership behavior.

My recent book, What Got You Here Won't Get You There, talks about why it can be so challenging for successful people to make the changes that they need to "go to the next level." Jim and Barry have not fallen into the classic "successful author's trap." Given the tremendous success of the first edition of Leadership Challenge, they could have easily thought, "Why change this? It is a huge winner!" Instead they have put in countless hours to make each new edition of this classic better than the previous editions. They have worked to incorporate both what they have learned, through their ongoing research--and what they have observed, through their observations of the changing world of work--to make this edition the best--and most relevant--for today's readers.

My final comment for you as a reader: don't just learn from this book--do something with what you learn. This is a practical guide that can help you lead in a way that makes your organization a better place. Take advantage of this opportunity to make a positive difference in your own life--and in the lives of the people that you lead. --Marshall Goldsmith

More to Explore
This leadership classic continues to be a bestseller after three editions and 20 years in print. It is the gold standard for research-based leadership, and the premier resource on becoming a leader. This new edition, with streamlined text, more international and business examples, and a graphic redesign, is more readable and accessible to business readers than ever before, and will prove to be the best edition yet.

FAQs About the Five Practices Model from The Leadership Challenge

Learn More About The Leadership Challenge Approach

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"The management classic," ("Financial Times," Tuesday 11th September 2007) "After 20 years in print, this key publication has undergone a substantial revision for its fourth edition." ("People Management," Thursday 1st November 2007) "After three editions and 20 years in print, this leadership classic continues to be the premier resource on becoming a leader." ("Securities & Investment Review," November 2007)

Customer Reviews

It's a very enjoyable read and it is very informative.
Daniel L.
I highly recommend this book to any one in a leadership position, or wanting to be in one.
jennifer snyder
I will definitely keep this book for future reference.
K. Forster

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Lisa Shea HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 28, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've read a large number of books on leadership and management over the years. The Kouzes and Posner "The Leadership Challenge" does a good job of providing an easy to read overview which helps leaders in all levels of an organization learn and grow. It's important to note that this is not meant to be a "solutions for specific situations" handbook. Rather, it provides that core level of understanding to give you a foundation, so that as you progress and pick up other "how to" books you have that base support beneath you to keep you grounded in a healthy, productive direction.

There are many first person stories in here to illustrate their points. They are presented with a variety of individuals from different backgrounds and management levels. This is great - it means no matter where the reader is in their career, they can relate directly to at least some of the stories. Sometimes books are tempted to only interview CEOs of gigantic companies, which might be cool for status reasons, but it does little to help the majority of their readers with their actual issues. The Leadership Challenge makes the stories accessible to all.

The key practices laid out in this book are:
* model the way
* inspire a shared vision
* challenge the process
* enable others to act
* encourage the heart

If you sit down with a hefty challenge that leadership has faced in your company, and then compare the progress of the challenge against these five practices, you can see very powerful correlations between what went well and poorly and these practices. There are not just touchy-feely "nice to have" ideas.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Dirty Harry on September 25, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Without a doubt, this is the best leadership book on the market! I have read more than 200 "leadership" books in the past ten years and this is by far the best. It takes real world situations and boils them down into the five areas that the authors state are the basics of leadership. It is not about the GE's of the world but everyday leaders, people you never hear about and how their personal "bests" have proven invaluable as leaders. I read this book annually just to be reenergized and focused as a leader. No leader should be without this book!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By William Cooke on May 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bernard Carabello is a survivor from Willowbrook. I have the privilege of knowing him and working with him serving the same population of developmentally disabled individuals. The other day, I decided to Google him. His name yielded many articles, as well as images of him with President Clinton and other global personalities. I saw him the next day to tell him how impressed I was and how appreciative I was of the leadership he has shown throughout his life. He innocently (and, to me, profoundly) responded, "Can I Google you?"

Anyone who feels confounded and paralyzed in their career needs to read, "The Leadership Challenge." Why? Because this is as much a book about leaders as followers... as much about elected representatives as it is about constituents... as much about bosses as it is about employees.

"The Leadership Challenge" is not meant to be a passive read, so forgive my personal application: that is the point.

First, the "born leader" is a myth. Sure, genes may favor good looks and a gregarious personality; chance of birth may favor riches. But there are too many exceptions to paint with that broad a brush. (Besides, everyone is born.) The fact is that leadership is a skill set. And, regardless of your position, it is a skill set worth learning.

The authors remind us that "there is no substitute for who and what you are," meaning that our leadership skills are as unique as our leadership opportunities. Nor is it about mimicry or rote recall.

Like many, I have had significant course corrections in my life. When someone observes a tangible accomplishment from my past, I am told, "you missed your calling." No, I am here. Use me now.
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26 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Robert on April 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Perhaps it's me, but if you need 350 pages to make five points, something is wrong. Kouzes and Posner's five practices are neither groundbreaking nor difficult to comprehend, so there is little justification beyond hubristic self-indulgence for the girth of this book. The authors should show some respect for the time of their target audience and have an editor reduce this book to its essence.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Nolan Vandewerker on November 5, 2012
Format: Paperback
This is a very in-depth book that challenges leaders to mobilize their people to get extraordinary things done in their organizations. The content is very digestible, intuitive, and compelling. It is called "The Leadership Challenge" for a reason: the chapters offer anecdotes and activities that challenge you to become the best leader you can be. They are quite good. Something as simple as, "Write Your Credo"--where it challenges you to write your own guiding principles as a leader--proved to be a valuable exercise for me.

I like leadership books that offer intuitive content and at the same time teach me to apply what I'm reading. Another book I recommend that does this incredibly well is Leadership 2.0

But I digress, here's a summary of what's in "The Leadership Challenge":


1. The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership:
1) Model the way
2) Inspire a shared vision
3) Challenge the process
4) Enable others to act
5) Encourage the heart

2. Credibility Is The Foundation of Leadership: For people to follow someone willingly, the majority of constituents believe the leader must be honest, forward-looking, inspiring, and competent.


3. Clarify Values: Find your voice and affirm shared values.

4. Set the Example: Personify the shared values and teach others to model these values.


5. Envision the Future: Imagine the possibilities and find a common purpose.

6. Enlist Others: Appeal to common ideals and animate the vision.

Part IV.
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