K&P have done extensive research on the characteristics of admired leaders on multiple continents for over 25 years. What did they learn and share about each of the following characteristics?
22. Being honest
Kouzes & Posner have found that being honest is one of the major skill people look for in a leader. This pattern has been seen consistently across cultures, countries and gender. Their research shows that people are increasing looking for their leaders to be honest. 89% of the respondents said in their 2007 research that they look for their leader to be honest.
23. Being forward looking
The second most sought after characteristic in a leaders is being forward-looking. By being forward looking, the researchers mean that the leader has a vision, and a clear goal as to where he wants to see the company in the future.
24. Being inspiring
The third most important characteristics people have identified is that their leader should be inspiring. 69% of the respondents wanted their leaders to be inspiring. This shows the importance for leaders to be charismatic and to have great communication skills.
25. Being competent
The fourth most important quality a leader needs to have is being competent. People want their leaders to know that they have the necessary skills to lead them. They want to be sure that the person leading them is competent in his area of expertise. This highlights the importance of specializing and being known for a particular skill.
The Ten Commitments of Leadership are embodied in the Five Fundamental Practices of Exemplary Leadership found on pp 14-23 (also Table 1.1 on p 26). Look at the Ten Commitments and provide an example of each:
26. Clarify values by finding your voice and affirming shared ideals.
Leaders need to be strong on matters of principle. For instance, Martin Luther King clarified his values and argued that black people deserve equal rights as whites as they are humans too. This shared ideal motivated the whole country to fight for black rights.
27. Set the example by aligning actions with shared values.
Leaders need to walk the talk. Once they have communicated their values, they also have to show it to their employees. For instance, if a leader values open communication then in a time of crisis, that leader needs to lead from the front and be ready to deliver bad news openly.
28. Envision the future by imagining exciting and ennobling possibilities.
An example of envisioning the future is when Ronald Regan said that he wants to put a man on the moon. This concrete vision was inspiring enough to motivate NASA to be able to achieve this goal quickly.
29. Enlist others in a common vision for appealing to shared aspirations.
One of the best examples of this is Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech, which is famous to till this day because it appease to the common traditional values of family, church and country. The people are able to relate to the examples that he gives in the speech.
30. Search for opportunities by seizing the initiative and by looking for ways to improve.
An example of this is the Toyota Way, in which they actively look at their processes and look for ways to improve it and eliminate ‘waste’ from the system.
31. Experiment and take risks by constantly generating small wins and learning from experience.
A good example of experimenting and iterating the way to success is Richard Branson, who first experiments with the business at a small scale and then expands that experience over a large scale. For instance, he launched Virgin Atlantic at small routes and then expanded its operations to longer routes.
32. Foster collaboration by building trust and facilitating relationships.
Walmart was able to foster collaboration by building trust and relationships with its vendors and suppliers by creating a climate of trust and providing them real-time information of the amounts they are selling.
33. Strengthen others by increasing self-determination and developing competence.
Growing organizations train their employees continuously to enhance their self-determination and develop their competence.
34. Recognize contributions by showing appreciation for individual excellence.
The ‘employee of the month’ program usually implemented in most assembly line type factories is an example of recognizing employees for their hard work.
35. Celebrate the values and victories by creating a spirit of community.
Organizations with a strong culture like Zappos are able to create a spirit of community and then they celebrate their values and victories. For instance, Zappos has a clear value of being happy at what you do, and to celebrate that value, each department has their own way of introducing a new employee in an organization.
36. K&P use the Marine Corps exercise "two sheets and a blanket" as an illustration. What does it illustrate?
The “two sheets and a blanket” exercise clearly illustrates the importance of teamwork. It shows that to succeed a person needs to shift his attitude from just completing his task to helping out everyone who he can help.
37. Define "collaboration" as employed by K&P.
In the book, the authors use collaboration and cooperate synonymously, and they define it as “to work jointly with others, or together esp. in an intellectual endeavor.”
38. Babe Ruth stuck out 1,330 times. In-between his strikeouts he hit 714 homeruns. Michael Jordan missed more than 9,000 shots. How do K&P feel about employees who take risks?
39. Athletic coaches do not wait until the season is over to let their players know how they are doing. How can organization leaders recognize and reward employees in a timely manner?
Organizational leaders can recognize and reward their employees in a timely manner by periodically monitoring their performance and giving them feedback on it.
40. Recognition awards vary from organization to organization. What are some examples that you have experienced or observed?
Some of the recognition awards are highest sales award, most innovative employee award, anniversary award, etc.
41. Have you ever had a mentor? List some of the benefits of having a mentor.
The benefit of having a mentor is that he will help you navigate the political waters of the organization, guide you on your decisions, access to a professional network, etc.
42. Is self-reflection important? Why or why not?
Self-reflection is very important as it shows a person how he can become successful and where he is going wrong.
43. How do K&P answer the question: Are leaders born or made?
Kouzes, James M., and Barry Z. Posner.The leadership challenge. 5th ed. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2012.