Category Archives: Leadership

The Student Leadership Challenge

In The Student Leadership Challenge (Jossey-Bass, 2008), authors James Kouzes and Barry Posner set out the “Five Practices of Exemplary Leaders.”  They are:

  • Model the Way – determine and clarify values, adhere to them, and communicate them to others in a demonstrative, rather than prescriptive way.
  • Inspire a Shared Vision – communicate an image of the future, encourage others to see the possibility of that future, and highlight the communal benefits of positive change.
  • Challenge the Process – be willing to take risks and experiment, to learn from failure, but commit to possibility.
  • Enable Others to Act – create teams, build trust, and learn to rely on the abilities of others.
  • Encourage the Heart – give positive feedback, celebrate values and victories, and encourage happiness and enthusiasm.

Each value is addressed in its own chapter of the book, after which the reader is offered prompts and writing space for reflection.  The final chapter synthesizes these behaviors into the book’s overarching message: “Leadership is everyone’s business.”

The Student Leadership Challenge is populated with personal accounts, collected through interviewing, that illustrate each of the five practices.  By providing real-life examples, Kouzes and Posner demonstrate that leadership is possible on any scale, in any field – from editing a school yearbook to overseeing a medical fellowship program.

While the theme of the book and the subjects of the accounts within are student leadership, the five practices explored are universal fundamentals that can build and enhance anyone’s ability to lead.  We are all born students – with the ability to learn the essentials of great leadership.  As Kuozes and Posner put it, “Leadership is an identifiable set of skills and abilities that are available to everyone.”

Use The Student Leadership Challenge to become the leader you want to be.

The Three Laws of Performance: Rewriting the Future of Your Organization and Your Life

In the Three Laws of Performance, Steve Zaffron and Dave Logan call out three truths of performance:

  1.  How people perform correlates to how situations occur to them.
  2. How a situation occurs arises in language.
  3. Future-based language transforms how situations occur to people.

The purpose of pointing to these three laws is to determine what, exactly, a leader must do in order to maintain the high performance of their team – the Leadership Corollaries (because of Law 1, a leader must…)

The laws and their corollaries acknowledge that subjectivity plays a large part of both the perception and quantification of performance.  They set the leader’s role as someone who takes that subjectivity into account, works toward common understanding, and guides his team’s idea of the future.

The idea of discussing performance in the frame of a desired future is a key message presented by Zaffron and Logan.  Through a collection of real-life stories, they show readers that performance and leadership breakthroughs are possible and that, by understanding the elements of a desired outcome, one can determine the approach needed to reach it.

Zaffron and Logan’s stories serve not only as illustrations of the Three Laws and Leadership Corollaries, but as models for leadership behavior and organizational transformation.  The Three Laws of Performance is a testimonial of possibilities – encouraging leaders to see a bright and better future for their teams, and to help them achieve their full potential.

True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership

In True North (Jossey-Bass, 2007), Bill George proposes that the only secret to success is the most obvious thing of all – your most authentic self.  George encourages his reader to identify and follow their cardinal principles.

In everyday matters, what George is asking has to do with organizational values and leadership behaviors.  He believes that leadership is about developing relationships and building a culture of character in an organization – from hiring to performance management.

To help readers find their true north, George first tells the real-life stories of many successful leaders, and how their leadership behavior and style have taken shape.  He then urges readers to take stock of their own behavior.

Finding the right role, increasing self-confidence, being consistent, and connecting with others are learnable behaviors that will ensure alignment in and out of the workplace.  The real message behind True North is value-based living – informing one’s actions with fundamental values at every opportunity, and extending those values to others.

As a final take-away, George encourages his newly-calibrated reader to empower others to lead by sharing stories, raising expectations, and opening dialogs – helping them find their true north. Find yours today!

From Bud to Boss: Secrets to a Successful Transition to Remarkable Leadership

The most exciting – and challenging – promotion is often your first one into a leadership position. But your colleagues are still in the same positions; and now you need to shift the dynamic in order to accomplish a new set of goals. Where do you start? From Bud to Boss (2011, Jossey-Bass), gives readers the roadmap they need to make this pivotal transition.

This book may as well have been called a course or program, because the authors take you through the important transition to leadership from the moment that the new job has been offered, and helps you take your first steps in the new world. It includes self-tests, summaries at the end of each chapter, and numerous links to online resources that will help you explore the areas that you find the most challenging.

Here is an overview of the topics covered:

  • Common concerns about the transition to leadership
  • Confronting important changes you face as a new leader
  • How to interact with your new peers
  • Understand the ‘wake’ you leave behind you
  • How to diagnose why people won’t change
  • Kick Start to Winning Presentations
  • Learn to use various types of feedback
  • Learn to handle conflict
  • Apply assertive communication techniques

One of the most notable sections was the frank chapter about goals. The authors’ advice belies their wealth of experience, when they tell readers that many of us are like Goldilocks when it comes to goals: we want each one to be ‘just right.’ The reality is that no goal is ‘Goldilocks perfect,’ and as a leader – especially a new one with the weight of extra focus on performance – it’s important not to use realistic goal setting as an excuse for avoiding goals altogether.

The bottom line is that team and organizational accomplishments start with the leader setting goals and committing to heir achievement. Kudos to Eikenberry and Harris for giving it to us straight.

With From Bud to Boss, you don’t have to face your transition alone.  In this book you’ll find a wise and reliable mentor to help you along the path to Remarkable Leadership.

The Leadership Pipeline: How to Build the Leadership-Powered Company

The Leadership Pipeline, by Ram Charan, Steve Drotter, and Jim Noel (Second Edition, Jossey-Bass, 2011), gives readers an in-depth look at the status of leadership development today – and what it takes to select and develop world-class leaders in the current economic and business climate. The Leadership Pipeline is an invaluable handbook for hiring, selection, and development at the executive level. It starts off by helping us understand how globalization, the new economy, and evolved organizational perspectives have changed the way we do business – and what is now necessary for successful leadership:

  • Founders and CEOs must shift their priorities as the company grows.
  • More leaders are needed to support larger, more dynamic systems – and they need to be grown internally.
  • New horizontal leadership skills are necessary.
  • Old economy companies are competing for new economy talent.

According to the authors, successful leaders must make six specific transitions to ensure that they take their place with world-class leaders. This nuanced viewpoint sets leadership development within a timeline of ‘passages.’ They encourage the reader to make these turns themselves, and to use them as a structure for developing the next generation of leadership. This progression is at the core of this in-depth look at high-level professional development:

  1. From Managing Oneself to Managing Others
  2. From Managing Others to Managing Managers
  3. From Managing Managers to Functional Manager
  4. From Functional Manager to Business Manager
  5. From Business Manager to Group Manager
  6. From Group Manager to Enterprise Manager

While the authors outline various behavior, priority and values changes that occur at each passage, the last one is the ‘holy grail’ of personal development and development of others, and requires an intentional shift in values in order to be successful. What is that shift? You will find out when you pick up this useful resource!

Do you struggle with how to select and train capable first-line managers? Have you experienced the let down of moving from business manager to group manager? Have you ever thought you had selected the right person but it became apparent that the decision was a mistake? All of these experiences are addressed in detail with logical, thoughtful explanations and case studies.

The Leadership Pipeline is a comprehensive leadership development book for the experienced professional.