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The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations, 5th Edition (J-B Leadership Challenge: Kouzes/Posner) Audio CD
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Featured Guest Review by 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 more than 32 books, including the New York Times best sellers What Got You Here Won't Get You There and Mojo.
Twenty-five years after the first edition was published, The Leadership Challenge by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner is still my choice for the best research-based book ever written in the field of leadership. It is a classic, and I recommend it to all of my clients.
The Leadership Challenge is written for real leaders, who today face some of the toughest organizational challenges we've ever encountered. And, it provides practical, real-world advice based on Jim's and Barry's extensive global research that is indispensable for leaders at all levels.
I always refer leaders to this book, because although my Ph.D. is in Organizational Behavior, my undergraduate background is in mathematics. And, I respect people who gather real facts! In developing the Leadership Practices Inventory, which is possibly the world's most widely respected tool for 360° leadership feedback, Jim and Barry have thoroughly reviewed input from tens of thousands of respondents. They've then used this data to form sound conclusions about what works--and what doesn't work--in terms of leadership behavior.
The central theme of The Leadership Challenge is that leadership is for everyone. It can be learned, but, let's face it, it's not easy. The 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 immediately apply what they have learned in their work.
For example, Jim and Barry asked managers about their clarity around their personal values as well as around the values of their organizations. These managers were also asked about their level of commitment to the organization, their level of motivation and productivity, job satisfaction, and so on. To me, what they found is fascinating! Leaders with the highest levels of commitment are those who are clearest about their own personal values. Clarity about personal values was more prevalent in a positive workplace attitude and level of engagement than was clarity around organizational values. In doing the research for my recent book, Mojo, I found something similar to be true as well: People who find happiness and meaning at home are more likely to also find happiness and meaning at work.
Finally, for those of you reading this book now, I'd highly recommend that you put what you read here into practice. This book can help you lead in such a way that your organization will become a better place for you, your managers, employees, and colleagues-to-be. At the same time, if you implement what you learn here, you'll make a positive difference in not only your organization, but also in your own life and in the lives of those whom you lead.
'One of the most trusted sources on leadership techniques since its first publication 25 years ago. (European CEO, 1st August 2012) If you re forward-looking enough to be serious about yourself as a competent leader, you need this book (Supply Management, December 2012) .now in its fifth edition and rightly so. The book presents the issues of leadership in an easy-to-digest manner, debunking the myth that leadership is some entity that people have or don t have (Professional Manager, March 2013) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
First, I feel it focuses so much on the inspirational side of leadership that it underplays the "sleeves-rolled-up" (getting the task done) reality of leadership in smaller firms. This feels like a big-company orientated book.
Second, it doesn't say much about how to develop leadership presence, even though the best leaders seem to have it. To me, great leadership is not just a matter of the right behaviours (which is what this book focuses on), it also depends on your presence. This, I feel, is a gap in the book.
Third, it might give some readers the impression that leaders must always be visionaries. It misses the point that a vision isn't always necessary, but a group purpose is. The purpose may be expressed as a vision, but then again it might not. It might instead be more pragmatic and short-term, especially if it's leadership of a rescue team we're talking about, not an international company.
Fourth, it says what you have to do (the five practices) to lead, but knowing what to do won't always enable someone to do it - especially if the behaviours aren't natural to them. Many leaders are stuck in old habits because of their psychology, but The Leadership Challenge doesn't address this.
Fifth, The Leadership Challenge, I feel, gives the impression that successful leaders have to be inspiring and lead from the front. But surely it is possible to put forth an inspiring idea without always being personally inspiring? Sure, it's helpful to be inspiring and a cheerleader kind of leader, but not everyone is like this. Think of Jim Collins book, "Good to Great," and the level 5 leaders he wrote about. They exuded humility and will, but were often rather low-profile. My point is that there are other ways of leading, but this book could give some people the idea that there's only one way of being a leader.
If you want a companion read that addresses these five points, the best I know of at this point is James Scouller's "The Three Levels of Leadership". This too provides a comprehensive, easily understood model of leadership, but it also gets into the leader's psychology and leadership presence, while staying practical and applicable to both large and small firms.
~ Holley Jacobs
The second time I came into contact with this book was during a graduate level course on leadership during a Master of Arts program in Management and Leadership at Webster University. The type of leadership style discussed in this book is a perfect example of what was referred to as transformational leadership. Transformational leaders are described as those that are effective at working with people. These five practices fit quite neatly into my personal leadership style and my personality.