15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Foundation Book
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...
Published on August 28, 2010 by Lisa Shea
21 of 27 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars If brevity is the soul of wit, then . . .
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...
Published on April 11, 2008 by Robert
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Foundation Book,
This review is from: The Leadership Challenge, 4th Edition (Paperback)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. It is clearly demonstrable that working to build a common purpose with the team, celebrating the small victories as you move along a project, building a climate of trust between managers and employees, and recognizing employees when they do an outstanding job are critical to the short term and long term success of an organization. They can often spell the difference between success and failure on a project.
Well recommended not only for managers and leaders but also for any employee who wants to find more satisfaction in their job. There are many situations where someone who is not "technically" a leader still provides leadership and mentoring activities to his or her coworkers. This book can help anyone succeed and become more enthusiastic about their work and life.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BEST LEADERSHIP BOOK ON THE MARKET,
This review is from: The Leadership Challenge, 4th Edition (Paperback)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!
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Make a difference. Start here.,
This review is from: The Leadership Challenge, 4th Edition (Hardcover)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.
"The Leadership Challenge" reminds me that to go forward, it is not necessary to reconstruct my past in order to prove my worth. I do not need to hold fast to the petty self-interests that can creep in to any present position. Rather, give back to reconstruct. Serve the personal values that I have stated for decades:
"Live in Peace.
Work for Justice.
Leadership starts when you believe in yourself and in others. Volumes have been written about the philosophies and theologies of self-discovery. Your beliefs frame your reality.
In reality, credibility is built by relationships and what you do. Those closest to you have the most influence on you and you have the most influence on those closest to you. The influence shared in relationships is as much based on a skill set as any club membership, company, organization, or even family. This means that your leadership can start anywhere; indeed, it already exists in whatever relationships you have, vocationally and at home.
Relationships are not static; they are facilitated around goals. This means being present and active in the lives of the people you touch. Why? Goals are envisioned and reached by empowered individuals. Individuals are empowered most by trust.
Trust is earned through risk-taking experience. Risk-taking, however, is counter-intuitive (if not averse) to a government entity whose very existence is based on mitigation of risk by accountability and efficiency. Experience has too often been measured by election cycles. Herein is our present challenge for leadership.
Accountability and efficiency are today not buzzwords, but mandates. Yet, these mandates must coexist with the agency mission, to "help people with developmental disabilities live richer lives." It is a dynamic tension that poses a significant leadership challenge for elected representatives and the public workforce. This leadership challenge is one that must be met. Historical experience would imply that, without it, taxpayers and civil service unions will remain in conflict and Willowbrook may be a nightmare poised to recur.
There is no doubt that leadership transforms. Elected representatives and the public workforce belong to something very special: government by the People. Everyone wants to be a part of something that raises them to higher levels of motivation and morality. It is consistent to assert that we "Put People First" by having the back of our public workforce. Likewise, accountability and efficiency is a conscientious goal of everyone who wants people with developmental disabilities to live richer lives.
In "The Leadership Challenge," Kouzes & Posner present a well researched, honed classic (this is the 4th edition) that belongs on the shelf of anyone who aspires to make a difference. Get it. And get started.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Challenge Yourself,
This review is from: The Leadership Challenge, 4th Edition (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":
PART I. WHAT LEADERS DO AND WHAT CONSTITUENTS EXPECT
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.
PART II. MODEL THE WAY
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.
PART III. INSPIRE A SHARED VISION
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. CHALLENGE THE PROCESS
7. Search For Opportunities: Seize the initiative and exercise outsight.
8. Experiment and Take Risks: Generate small wins and learn from experience.
Part V. ENABLE OTHERS TO ACT
9. Foster Collaboration: Create a climate of trust and facilitate relationships.
10. Strengthen Others: Enhance self-determination and develop competence and confidence.
PART VI. ENCOURAGE THE HEART
11. Recognize Contributions: Expect the best and Personalize recognition.
12. Celebrate the Values and Victories: Create a spirit of community and Be personally involved.
Part VII. LEADERSHIP FOR EVERYONE
13. Leadership Is Everyone's Business
- You are the most important leader in your organization.
- Leadership is learned.
- Leaders make a difference.
- First lead yourself.
- Moral leadership calls us to high purposes.
- Humility is the antidote to hubris.
- Leadership is in the moment.
- The best-kept secret of successful leaders is love: staying in love with leading, with the people who do the work, with what their organizations produce, and with those who honor the organization by using its products and services.
21 of 27 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars If brevity is the soul of wit, then . . .,
This review is from: The Leadership Challenge, 4th Edition (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.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Do you need this book?,
This review is from: The Leadership Challenge, 4th Edition (Paperback)I took a leadership class in undergrad as an elective and the main source of information for the class was this book. I read the book thoroughly and listened to the audio recordings. I received an A in the class. The book is very long and lays out some basic principles such as building trust, showing appreciation, and ennobling others. If you are looking for deeper insight than those three examples, you are not going to get any. The only thing I thought was interesting about the book was the result of the study of what people found most important in leaders. However, it wasn't that interesting and there isn't a lot of scientific data in the book. I think people probably buy this book because they are looking to get ahead in their jobs and this is a best selling book on leadership so they think they should buy it. It is not expensive so I wouldn't say this is as much a waste of money as it is a waste of time. You could think on your own about what qualities you have admired in people who have led you and what do you think a leader could do to help you succeed then you probably would know all you need to know. Bottom line: This book states a handful of common sense principles and expands on them with a lot of fluff. If you are a manager who treats your employees with respect and wants them to succeed then you probably don't need to read this book. If this book is really useful to you, you shouldn't have been put in a leadership/management position to begin with. I think some other reviews lay out all the principles. Just read the principles and avoid buying the book.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book!,
This review is from: The Leadership Challenge, 4th Edition (Paperback)I recently returned to college after many years and my professor to my Leadership and Management recomended and refered to this book many times during the class. It was not required for the class but I am glad I got this and the workbook for it early on in the class. Not only was it very helpful with class but actually a joy to read and work with.
34 of 47 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars 10 pages of information stretched to 400,
This review is from: The Leadership Challenge, 4th Edition (Paperback)I am convinced that Jossey Bass will publish anything. I don't necessarily disagree with the material, however, it would make a better magazine article rather than a 400-page book. The authors go to an embarassing extreme in order to stretch the material out. See how I just used two sentences to make a single point? Annoying, right? This book uses pages and pages to illustrate rather pedestrian concepts. Ugggh!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Among the best,
This review is from: The Leadership Challenge, 4th Edition (Paperback)This is probably one of the best books about leadership ever written, it is very well documented and is based on research. I have read tons of books about leadership and this book sums it up, read this and you got what you need. There are lots of good examples and the balance between theory and how to do things is perfect. Why I didn't give this book five stars is because its loooooong. I loved the book but still had to work my way through it, for the next edition maybie the writers should remove about a 100 pages or so.
Read this and the book "First, break all the rules" and you'll get a great hint on how to practice leadership.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Challenge (http://justinfarley.blogspot.com/2009/04/challenge.html),
This review is from: The Leadership Challenge, 4th Edition (Paperback)I recently completed a reading critique of a book by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner titled, The Leadership Challenge: The Most Trusted Source on Becoming a Better Leader. Here area few of my observations:
What is the author's main purpose in writing this book?
The authors' main purpose in writing this book is to make an attempt to assist leaders in accomplishing the astonishing within their respective organizations (Kouzes and Posner, xi). One of the greatest challenges that every leader will face is to translate one's principles into procedures and one's mission into actuality. The authors' wish is to equip leaders with the capability to guide their teams through moments of insecurity, to maximize the gifts and passions of their counterparts, to exemplify integrity and transparency, and to grow on a regular basis. The objective behind this resource is to encourage leaders to become deliberate in building a lasting legacy by creating valued institutions that survive over time in developing both individuals and institutions who acclimatize, transform, flourish, and mature (Kouzes and Posner, xii).
List two items of information this book provided of which you were not previously aware.
The authors' teaching on the importance of setting an example as a leader was extraordinarily helpful information (Kouzes and Posner, 95). They encouraged readers to be intentional in doing regular personal audits. Such examinations should include one's habits, schedules, meetings, and responses to obstacles. They then recommend that leaders make such experiences and evaluations available to their followers. One reason why some ministry strategies are not as effective as initially envisioned is because the leadership team is not modeling the values to their followers. For example, small groups often do not survive (or at least thrive) in local churches because the pastor is not actively engaged in a small group (he could at least adopt his pastoral staff to function in such a way as to model community to the congregation). The point leader might need to become more intentional in sharing stories and experiences in the mist of his messages or lessons. Another example would be one's general frustration with people's lack of obedience to personal evangelism. Yet again, the leaders must first exemplify the importance of connecting to their own sphere of influence through prayer, kindness, conversation, and invitation. They must make every effort to see their own friends being baptized during a weekend worship gathering before they ask their congregation to be about the mission.
Another item of instruction that was appreciated was the chapter on leaders who inspire shared vision - specifically the portion dedicated to the importance of creating common purpose for the organization. The authors warn that "You can't mobilize people to travel to places they don't want to go" (Kouzes and Posner, 117). Therefore, a pastor must be careful to pay attention to the people of his church and to establish what is most valuable to them. He must convey the gospel in such a way that the message becomes an invitation to them to be challenged, an opportunity to participate in something larger than themselves, a possibility to personify greatness, a prospect to do something good, and to transform the world as they know it. One reason why many people have shown a lack of commitment might be because the leadership has failed to call them to commit to the correct mission. Too much time and attention has often been invested in a building, in a budget, or in a specific ministry program and all the while the people have largely neglected Christ's Great Commission and Great Commandment.
What was the most helpful part of this book and why?
The most helpful part of the book was the author's instruction on the importance of every leader enabling others to act (Kouzes and Posner, 20). The authors used the example of how entrusting leaders will often use the phrase "we" well over the term "I." They reiterated the importance of leadership functioning out of relationship and thus exemplifying a willingness to turn their people into leaders themselves. Many pastors have a difficulty mobilizing and releasing their church into ministry due to a lack of personal vision and values for themselves. They do not know where to go next and therefore grow fearful that someone else will rise up and take people some place entirely different. Such an atmosphere does nothing but breed a culture of distrust between the pastor and the church. Typically, a gigantic deficit of adequate and necessary training and developmental opportunities arise in such an environment. Thus, either the pastor is unwilling or unable to make fully committed disciples within the community.
In the spirit of enabling ministry, a leader must "show trust to build trust" (Kouzes and Posner, 242). Credibility begins with revealing who one is and what one believes. A trustworthy leader must be quick to confess his failures and recognize a need for personal growth and discipline. A leader of integrity must never shy away from asking for feedback, closely paying attention to others' responses, and creatively celebrating the successes of others. A reliable leader is willing to change his mind, to forgive those who have failed, to keep away from all forms of slander, and to actually include those who have made themselves available to the cause.
Finally, to sufficiently enable others to serve, a leader must be an effective coach and mentor. One way in which leaders can grow in this area is in the avenue of conducting monthly coaching conversations (Kouzes/Posner, 272).
The authors listed questions which are specifically designed to initiate feedback between leaders and followers. One must reiterate the vision by asking, "Where are we going?" He must also encourage alignment within the organization by asking, "Where are you going?" The leader can continue by complimenting and correcting when necessary by asking, "What are you doing well? He might also take inventory by asking, "What suggestions for improvements do you have for yourself?" One could also guide the teammate in taking personal responsibility by asking, "How can I help you? Finally, one must show that he too is trainable by asking, "What suggestions do you have for me?" The natural alternative to not giving regular and honest feedback is to eventually be forced to do damage control. Paul seemed to coach his church when he wrote, "This is why I write these things when I am absent, that when I come I may not have to be harsh in my use of authority--the authority the Lord gave me for building you up, not for tearing you down" (2 Corinthians 13:10-11).
Copy one quotation from the book that seemed particularly important to you and interact in your own words with the portion you quoted.
One quotation from the book that was particularly important was, "The study of leadership is the study of how men and women guide others through adversity, uncertainty, hardship, disruption, transformation, transition, recovery, new beginnings, and other significant challenges" (Kouzes and Posner, 164). The authors encouraged leaders to search for opportunities - what they called "seizing the initiative" (Kouzes and Posner, 164). They proposed that transformation requires great influence. In other words, authentic leaders will seek to improve their organization. That being said, such morphing goes far beyond the senses (i.e. the bottom line of budgets, buildings, and attendance). Some momentous cultural shifts far exceed that which can "be seen, felt, or measured by a new system, structure, or process" (Kouzes and Posner, 168). The true test of a leader who successfully navigates through change is that the organization, and most importantly the actual people, is actually making a noticeable impact in their community.
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The Leadership Challenge, 4th Edition by James M. Kouzes (Paperback - August 4, 2008)
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