Over the years the leadership resources of James Kouzes and and Barry Posner have been invaluable to me. Recently they published The Truth About Leadership: The No-Fads, Heart-of-the-Matter Facts You Need to Know.
The book identifies ten principles that are true of great leadership wherever you find it, at whatever level you find it. Here’s a brief itemization of these rules.
- You make a difference. Your first order as a leader is to believe in yourself and to believe that you can make a positive difference.
- Credibility is the foundation of leadership. If people cannot believe you or believe in you, they are unlikely to follow.
- Values drive commitment. Leaders only gain commitment through excelling at motivating others. And motivation is tied inseparably to values.
- Focusing on the future sets leaders apart. Leaders must never allow the demands and distractions of the immediate to take their eye off of their ultimate destination.
- You can’t do it alone. Leaders must be team builders.
- Trust rules. It is the glue that holds all relationships together, particular the relationship between leaders and their people.
- Challenge is the crucible of greatness. Only by struggling with challenges and transcending them do leaders grow in their leadership skill and prove themselves as leaders.
- You either lead by example, or you don’t lead at all. Great leaders invariably believe in their cause so passionately that they embody it in their very persona.
- The best leaders are great learners. This is especially true today, when the world is changing so fast that leaders must be honing their skills and insights constantly just to stay abreast.
- Leadership is an affair of the heart. That’s why so much turns on the leader’s ability to create inspiration.
This is an impressive list. There are vast insights to be derived from plummeting into each of these principles.
Together they form a useful and worthwhile checklist for any leader. Read through these ten truths again and give yourself a 1 to 10 score on how well you are doing with each one. None of them can be ignored. To be great leaders, we must excel at each one. In which of these arenas do you need to devote the most developmental energy this year?