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The Leadership Challenge: How to Keep Getting Extraordinary Things Done in Organizations Paperback – CLV, November 22, 1996

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Product Details

  • Series: J-B Leadership Challenge: Kouzes/Posner (Book 5)
  • Paperback: 405 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1st edition (November 22, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0787902691
  • ISBN-13: 978-0787902698
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #744,125 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

An inspirational and practical handbook, this expanded revision of a bestselling manual originally published in 1987 offers sound advice to corporate leaders and entrepreneurs, to managers and employees and to aspiring leaders in retail, manufacturing, government, community, church and school settings. Drawing on interviews and a questionnaire survey of more than 3000 leaders, the authors identify five fundamental practices of exemplary leadership: challenge the status quo; inspire a shared vision; enable others to act; model the way forward by setting an example; tap individuals' inner drives by linking rewards and performance. Kouzes, chairman and CEO of TPG/Learning Systems, and Posner, managing partner of Santa Clara University's Executive Development Center in California, write insightful, down-to-earth, jargon-free prose. This new edition has been substantially updated to reflect the challenges of shrinking work forces, rising cynicism and expanded telecommunications. An appendix includes the author's Leadership Practices Inventory, a tool for assessing leadership behavior. 75,000 first printing; Executive Program Book Club main selection; author tour.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"At a time when words like 'inspiration' or 'spirit' are sometimes used with embarrassment, the authors restore those lofty concepts to their rightful place at the core of successful business.'' (Norman Lear, chairman and CEO, Act III Communications)

"A vital resource for all leaders and managers preparing themselves for the demands of 21st century leadership." (Kathryn E. Johnson, president and CEO, The Healthcare Forum)

"I not only enjoyed it... found myself constantly nodding and saying to myself, 'That's right! That's how it's done! That's what it feels like!' You certainly captured the essence of what I've found is at the heart of transforming leadership.'' (Robert Haas, chairman and CEO, Levi Strauss & Co.)

"The Leadership Challenge changed the direction of Motorola Semiconductor's World Marketing Organization." (Charles E. Thompson, senior vice president, director world marketing, Semiconductor Products Sector, Motorola Inc.)

"Kouzes and Posner demonstrate that when ordinary business people aspire to extraordinary achievements they can expand the realm of what's possible.'' (Kathy Meyer, executive director, The Business Enterprise Trust)

"The Leadership Challenge is a book that should be read and worked through by every member of every organization. It makes real and accessible the practices of leadership. If it is not in the workplace of all your people you are missing the plot." (David Clancy, manager, Culture Development, Westpac Banking Corporation)

"This book has heart. . . . I highly recommended The Leadership Challenge in 1987. I do so even more in 1995.'' (from the foreword by Tom Peters)

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Customer Reviews

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The style is easy to read and quick, and the points very direct, well-explained and easy to follow.
M. H. Bayliss
Must read for anyone and everyone in a leadership position in any profession.
J. Hage

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

132 of 139 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 1, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Note: The review which follows was written on March 2, 2002. Recently, the 4th edition of this book was published and I have read it but see no reason to change any of my original review. This latest edition has some new material, notably the inclusion of more cases from outside the United States. Also, as Kouzes and Posner explain in their Preface, "we did decide we needed to go on a diet. Each succeeding edition tended to put on a little weight -- feature creep, as they say in the technology business." For those who are curious to know, nothing in the co-authors' continuing research since the first edition has as yet revealed a "magical sixth practice that will revolutionize the practice of leadership."

* * * * *

I recently re-read this brilliant book before proceeding to Kouzes and Posner's more recently published Encouraging the Heart. I highly recommend both and suggest that they be read in the order in which they were written. Those of us who presume to review books such as this one can merely indicate their breadth and depth of substance as well as their stimulation of thought about the material presented. For example, Kouzes and Posner identify what they call "five leadership practices common to successful leaders" and then suggest ten "behavioral commitments" among those leaders studied.
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58 of 64 people found the following review helpful By M. H. Bayliss on January 2, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Thanks to my coursework, I'm reading lots of books on leadership. I just finished this one which I'd rate the most helpful in terms of hands-on leadership of all the ones I've read so far (about 10). The style is easy to read and quick, and the points very direct, well-explained and easy to follow. Not only that, the content is CRUCIAL for any leader. It's only too easy to see from the examples they give how many seemingly easy things (like remembering to thank your co-workers and recognize their accomplishments) are NOT followed by current leaders. In case you every wondered to yourself, "But how would I do that?" enough examples are provided (very specific ones) that any leader could manage it if they WANTED to. What I liked about this book is that it recognized many facets of leadership that have been ignored like leading with your heart and not asking others to do what you yourself would not. It's not about having the nicest office -- it's about getting out on the factory floor and talking to those you lead. A terrific book both in theory and content. If you only read one, read this one.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Russell Fanelli VINE VOICE on August 17, 2001
Format: Paperback
For the past five years The Leadership Challenge has been required reading for many students getting an MBA degree, and for good reason. First, the book is highly readable. Kouzes and Posner write for real managers with serious leadership problems. They include many true stories or managers facing difficult challenges. For example, the Pat Carrigan story at the Lakewood Assembly Plant outside of Atlanta demonstrates that it is possible for management and labor to work effectively together if the leader is a person genuinely interested in people. Pat was smart enough to know that she didn't have all the answers. She turned to her rank-and-file employees for help and they responded more favorably than even she had expected. Pat broke down the barriers that typically had existed at General Motors, opened lines of communication, and helped people to take responsibility for their work. She treated her employees like adults and the good people she knew they were. Many other stories like Pat Carrigan's fill the pages of this book and these stories are an inspiration for on-the-job leaders or those aspiring for these positions.
Next, the book is filled with good ideas and suggestions for taking a leadership role in any organization. Challenging the Process, Inspiring a Shared Vision, Enabling Others to Act, Modeling the Way, and Encouraging the Heart provide a game plan for leaders to use to positively influence the behavior of others.
Typically, managers consider such stuff as Encouraging the Heart to be too "touchy feely" to be worth serious consideration. Kouzes and Posner demonstrate convincingly, I think, that such encouragement is not "soft soap," but the hardest reality on which integrity and trust are based.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By D. Baden on August 11, 1999
Format: Paperback
For leaders who have been in that vocation for some time, this book serves as a refresher, and perhaps the acknowledgment of the methods leaders choose. Focused on long-term organizational growth and health, it reminds one that short term gains are the province of managers, while leaders continually challenge and motivate people to achieve the extraordinary. For the new leader, this is an in-depth primer, broken down into chunks small enough to digest, but full of insight and inspiration. It is not a how-to book per se, but does outline a path towards better leadership, and challenges one to develop themselves with a purpose. I loved it! My copy is note-ridden, earmarked, annotated, and continually referred to for anecdotes and ideas. Buy a copy for every developing leader beneath you, and start a development plan for them all.
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