The Truth About Leadership

In their book, The Truth About LeadershipJames Kouzes and Barry Posner, write: “… as much as the context of leadership has changed, the content of leadership has not changed much at all.” After three decades of writing and research they have found ten fundamental truths about leadership.

  1. You Make a Difference – Before you can lead, you have to believe that you can have a positive impact on others. You have to believe in yourself.
  2. Credibility is the Foundation of Leadership – You have to believe in you, but others have to believe in you, too. What does it take for others to believe in you? Short answer: Credibility.
  3. Values Drive Commitment – People want to know what you stand for and believe in. They want to know what you value.
  4. Focusing on the Future Sets Leaders Apart – The capacity to imagine and articulate exciting future possibilities is a defining competence of leaders. You have to take the long-term perspective.
  5. You Can’t Do It Alone – No leader ever got anything extraordinary done without the talent and support of others. Leadership is a team sport. What strengthens and sustains the relationship between leader and constituent is that leaders are obsessed with what is best for others, not what is best for themselves.
  6. Trust Rules – Trust is the social glue that holds individuals and groups together. And the level of trust others have in you will determine the amount of influence you have.
  7. Challenge is the Crucible for Greatness – Exemplary leaders are always associated with changing the status quo.
  8. You Either Lead by Example or You Don’t Lead at All – Leaders have to keep their promises and become role models for the values and actions they espouse. You can’t ask others to do something you aren’t willing to do yourself.
  9. The Best Leaders are the Best Learners – You have to believe that you (and others) can learn to lead and, that you can become a better leader tomorrow than you are today. Leaders are constant improvement fanatics and learning is the master skill of leadership.
  10. Leadership is an Affair of the Heart – It could also be the first truth. Leaders are in love with their constituents, their customers and clients, and the mission that they are serving. Leaders make others feel important and are gracious in showing their appreciation. Love is the motivation that energizes leaders to give so much for others. You won’t work hard enough to become great if you aren’t doing what you love.

The Truth About Leadership is a magnificent learning experience. Kouze’s and Pozner’s beautiful book captures their purpose in sharing their learnings in the following:

“This isn’t a ‘How To’ or ‘Made Easy’ or ‘For Dummies’ approach to leadership. It is a book about fundamentals. And fundamentals are the necessary building blocks to greatness. You can’t fast-track your way to excellence. Leadership is a demanding, noble discipline not to be entered into frivolously or casually. It requires an elevated sense of mastery. And, you can do it. It is a matter of technique, of skill, of practice. It’s also a matter of desire and commitment.”

May your desire and commitment to embrace these ten truths set you on fire, and may your fire touch and spread to those whom you serve. May they serve you on your journey to become more than you ever dreamed you could be… and more… so much more.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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2 Responses to The Truth About Leadership

  1. Jack Beach says:

    These are all great truths about leadership, yesterday, today, and tomorrow. And although Kouzes and Posner assert that “leadership is an affair of the heart” is the first truth, that may be superseded by their insight that “leadership is a team sport.” There is no leadership without an engaged team. And while the leader should be “obsessed with what is best for others, not what is best for themselves;” the team too must be devoted to each other and fixated on a common enterprise goal beyond their parochial interests. Thanks for sharing Mike.

  2. Love the article. I know Jim and he is a dear man.Now–how do you get wider coverage for this. How about circulating it through Congress where we are not seeing true leadership? In fact, please go to this web site I created: Jim signed the pledge. Perhaps you will too and pass it along. Appreciate what you wrote. Timely and needed.

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