The Leadership Challenge by James M. Kouzes EPUB & PDF – eBook Details Online
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- Author: James M. Kouzes
- Language: English
- Genre: Business Management
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When Leaders Are at Their Best
Leadership is ultimately about creating a way for people to
contribute to making something extraordinary happen.
WITH LEADERSHIP, as with most things in life, experience is
often the teacher. We learn what to do by trying it ourselves or by
watching others. The problem is that not all of what’s done or
observed is effective or appropriate behavior. When recommending
to leaders what they should and should not do, it’s imperative to base
leadership practices on the best of what people do and observe—the
actions that represent the highest standards of excellence.
That was our objective when we first began our leadership research
in 1983. We wanted to answer a simple question: What do people do
when they are at their personal best as leaders?
To answer this question, we developed the Personal‐Best Leadership
Experience questionnaire and started collecting case studies. These
were stories about times when, in their perception, leaders set their
individual standard of excellence. They could select a recent
experience or one from their past. They could have been the official
person‐in‐charge or have emerged as the informal leader.
have held a paid position or been a volunteer, either in a workplace
or nonwork setting. They could have been part of a corporation,
agency, community group, professional association, sports team, or
school. The timing and context were up to them; it just needed to be
an experience they felt represented their best leadership
The Personal‐Best Leadership Experience questionnaire is 12 pages
long, consisting of 38 open‐ended questions, and generally requires
one to two hours for reflection and expression. More than 550 of
these surveys were collected initially, and that number today is well
over 5,000. In addition, we have conducted hundreds of in‐depth
interviews on the same themes.
In those interviews and case studies, we asked questions such as:
Where did your personal‐best leadership experience occur? When
did it take place? How long was it from start to finish? What kind of
project or undertaking was it? What was your specific role in this
project? What external or internal challenges did you face? What
words best describe how you felt at the beginning of this experience?
How would you describe your feelings during this experience? Who
initiated this experience? What did you aspire to accomplish?
Who was involved in this experience? What actions did you take to get
people moving in the right direction? How did you overcome
setbacks? What did you do to keep people motivated? What did you
learn from this experience? What key lessons about leadership would
you share with another person from this experience?
Wherever we look, we find examples of exemplary leadership. We
have found them in for‐profit firms and nonprofits, agriculture and
mining, manufacturing and utilities, technology and financial
services, education and healthcare, government and military, and
arts and community services.
These leaders have been in hierarchical
positions, as well as nonmanagers, individual contributors, and
volunteers. They have been young and old, women and men, and
represent a broad range of organizations and functions as well as
racial, ethnic, religious, and cultural groups. Leaders reside in every
city, country, and nation. And we find this diversity to be true to this
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