How to Raise Leaders at Every Level to Achieve Extraordinary Results? Alaa Ahmed MBA Candidate Introduction Leadership is an important concept in every sector, in family, school, organization, company, and in every community. The secret behind the success of any organization is its leadership. Academic analysis has given us more than 850 definitions of leadership (bennis, 1997). All of them have the same factors but in different formulations. After I read many of these definitions, I saw leadership as guiding a group of people toward achieving a specific goal.
Scholars researched and studied leadership styles, and leadership patterns, whereas Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner studied leadership from a different perspective. They dealt with leadership as a challenge and the leader who succeeds in facing the challenge and gets extraordinary result is considered exemplary. As a result, Kouzes and Posner started their journey since 1983 looking for how the leader becomes exemplary and achieves extraordinary results. Their study covered leadership in all sectors and on all the continents of the world. They collected data from different people and mangers during 25 years and analyzed them.
They found that in order for a leader to be exemplary and able to get extraordinary results, he/she has to be able to transform values into actions, visions into realities, obstacles into innovations, separateness into solidarity, and risks into rewards (Kouzes & Posner, 2002). To get all this done, they outlined a mechanism that they called “The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership“ ; there are two commitments that go along with each practice which are the subject of our research. Model the way Model the way is aligned with two commitments .
The first one is find your voice by clarifying your values. A leader must clarify the values that he believes in, look for the common values, and have the ability to transfer these values into actions. A clear guiding principle is necessary to follow and to gain the consensus about these principles from to be easily applied. These values must be reflected in the leader’s behavior to emphasize credibility which as Kouzes and Posner said is the foundation of leadership. Leaders’ clear values help them to practice the second commitment which is “set the example by aligning actions with shared values”.
Telling stories helps others think about how to bring values alive. Giving rousing speeches is not enough; a leader has to go first and participate by doing what he asks others to do. Also a leader has to be (dwysywd) which is the acronym of (do what you say you will do). Followers will believe not what they hear from the leader but what they see the leader consistently do. For example, the director general of the company that I work for issued a decision that all employees must wear their ID on their chests as long as they were inside the company during the formal working time.
The next day, we saw him standing at the entrance wearing his ID as an example or a model for us. Undoubtedly, model the way is not enough to complete the picture of the exemplary leadership, consequently; leaders need to follow another practice in order to share the vision. Inspire a shared vision Leaders to inspire a shared vision with their employees, have to practice two commitments. The first one is to envision the future by imagining exciting and ennobling possibilities. Think for yourself and imagine the future that you wish for your organization.
Ask, listen, and adapt mentally and emotionally the employees’ vision, their future imagination, and what they aspire for the organization. The second commitment is to enlist others in a common vision by appealing to a shared aspiration. A leader needs to analyze and discuss both aspirations to create a common aspiration which contributes in strengthening the work relationship and enlisting others to work on achieving the common aspiration. Welcome any opinion or thoughts and give attention because innovation is created in this way. Francisco Magalhaes gives us an example through a story of his experience.
When he had just started his new job at a railway workshop, he thought about something related to his job and concluded that there was a way to reduce the cost by more than half. He told his colleagues about that, but he did not get their attention. His colleagues’ reaction did not stop him; he went to his leader and told him about his idea. The leader immediately began analyzing Francisco’s proposal, discussed it with him and found that what Francisco proposed was correct. This direct leader continued supporting Francisco in order to implement this thought on the ground and he told the director general about Francisco (Magalhes, n. . ). This leader shared Francisco’s thought and gave him more attention. Without his leadership Francisco’s original idea would have failed. Inspiring and supporting the innovative ideas of employees is what leaders have to do if they want to be exemplary; however, this exemplarity will not be completed without challenging the process. Challenger the process There are two commitments that can be used as strategies by the leader to challenge the process (Kouzes & Posner, 2002). One of these commitments is searching out challenging opportunities to change, grow, innovate, and improve.
Leaders, who stay leading in the same way for a long time, will lose their employees’ enthusiasm. The great leader has to look for and create new ways to challenge the routine and encourage the team toward achieving its goals. Chip Perry, a president and CEO of AutoTrader. com, says that one of his powerful leadership techniques is to tell their employees that one of their main responsibilities is to challenge the status quo and work constantly to improve anything that may be used to get the work done (Yaverbaum, 2004)The second commitment is experimenting, taking risks, and learning from the accompanying mistakes.
The employees like to work with a leader who ventures into unfamiliar and uncertain situations and transfers risks into rewards because the best solutions are often found in these cases. Likewise, wisdom is gained through pain and reflection (Bennis, 2003, p. 134). Andy Stanly highlighted that if leaders stop challenging the process, they cease to be leaders and they become managers (Andy, 2006). This pushes us to split between leader and manger by saying that the leader is someone who guides and the manger is someone who drives.
Besides, Bennis observed that “the manager is a copy; the leader is an original, the manager administers, the leader innovates, and the manager relies on control; the leader inspires trust” (Bennis, 2003, p. 45). However; leaders who search out opportunities, step into the unknown, are willing to take risks, and are prepared to meet whatever challenges may face them, are not always considered exemplary. The leader needs to empower others and support them, too. Enable others to act For leaders to enable others to act,they need to start with fostering collaboration by promoting cooperative goals and building trust.
Create spiritual cooperation between all the organization’s members by emphasizing that you trust them and believe that they can do the best. Donald Evans, Secretary of U. S. Department of Commerce says “Nothing is important to being and effective leader that having an unshakable trusting relationship with those whom you work with and those you lead” (Yaverbaum, 2004, p. 232). Great work does not occur without active involvement and support. Achieving the purpose of the organizations must be everyone’s responsibility, and good leaders promote teamwork rather than competition as the road to success.
Competition, which is trying to beat others, is vastly different in purpose from collaboration which is trying to do well. The cooperative relationships between members are assets of the organization. Leaders must know how to nurture them. In building a strong team out of people with diverse and sometimes conflicting interests, leaders must develop cooperative goals, seek integrative solutions and build trusting relationships. There is a truth that you cannot do it alone. A leader will ever get anything extraordinary done without the talent and support of others.
You need others and they need you. Then, the second commitment to fulfill this practice is to strengthen others by sharing power and discretion. When you intend to make a decision, ask employees about their ideas and listen. Involve them in the decision-making process. Zenger and Folkman mention that leaders can find best recourses by asking people in work about their ideas and seeking details. Fell others that you are concerned about their ideas and opinions (Zenger & folkman, 2007). Enable others to act is considered a major forward step to the five practice which is encouraging the heart.
Encourage the heart Encouraging the heart is the fifth practice set by Kouzes and Posner. Leaders who want to get extraordinary results should recognize contributions by showing appreciation for individual excellence. Thank employees who did a great job, surprise them by giving moral and financial support. Let them feel that what they did is considered something magnificent in order to push them to give more, at the same time, to encourage others who do not have contributions to compete with employees who have contributions. Continue by elebrating the values and victories by creating a spirit of community. Celebrate team success and pride in the accomplishments. There is a strategy to be a good leader is to explore and expect leaders around you (Zenger & folkman, 2007). By looking for leaders around you and giving them the feeling that they might be future leaders; you encourage them to do better. Credibility is the foundation of leadership The five practices that we have reviewed paint a partial picture of leadership. These practices are like a body without soul, so there is no benefit from this body.
They are like pillars built on the sands which quickly will fall down. According to research done by Kouzes and Posner for more than two decades, they were looking for what people admire in their leaders. Findings were that credibility is the characteristic that employees admire in their leaders, as the research showcase that the top four characteristics that employees look for in their leaders are; honesty, forward-looking, inspiring, and competent, consequently; these four characteristic are the core of the credibility. The research ranged across the world and years .
It shows that honesty is the number one trait then forward looking, competent, and inspiring (Kouzes & Posner, 2002). Employees follow you as a leader when they believe and trust you. But without credibility which is the foundation of the leadership, there is an uphill battle will face you because you will try to pull the employees to your site and as you are the only pulling, soon both sites are being weary and give up (Brown, 2011). Without credibility, you as a leader will fail to transfer your values into actions then you will lose your employees’ trust.
Table 1 Characteristics of admired leaders Percentage of Respondents selecting that characteristic Characteristic| 2002 edition | 1995 edition | 1987 edition | Honest | 88| 88| 83| Forward looking | 71| 75| 62| Competent| 66| 63| 67| Inspiring | 65| 68| 58| Intelligent | 47| 40| 43| Fair-minded | 42| 49| 40| Broad-minded | 40| 40| 37| Supportive | 35| 41| 32| Straightforward | 34| 33| 34| Dependable | 33| 32| 33| Cooperative | 28| 28| 25| Determined | 24| 17| 17| Imaginative | 23| 28| 34| Ambitious | 21| 13| 21| Courageous | 20| 29| 27| Caring | 20| 23| 26|
Mature | 17| 13| 23| Loyal | 14| 11| 11| Self-controlled | 8| 5| 13| Independent | 6| 5| 10| Source: The Leadership Challenge by Jim M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner , 2002. The Five practices of exemplary leadership are distinctive When we review all studies and research about leadership, we will find that Kouzes and Posner studies and findings are different. What distinguish their findings are the followings: 1- The length of the study period which more than two decades. 2- Collecting data from different people (employees, managers, CEO’s, leaders). – They made their research more than one time in different periods in order to determine the constants. 4- Their surveys covered the world. (Africa, North America, South America, Asia, Europe, and Australia ) 5- They transferred their findings into clear concepts. The five practices of exemplary leadership Exemplary Leadership Encourage the Heart Enable Others to Act Challenger the Process Inspire a Shared Vision Model the Way Credibility Conclusion: The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership Make Extraordinary Results
Two recent research reports confirm the importance of the five practices of exemplary leadership (Kouzes & Posner, 2002). One of those reach was done by Richard Roi (2006). He asked the executives of 94 companies to rate their company’s senior leaders on the five practices of exemplary leadership. He analyzed those leaders with strong consistent application of the five practices; their companies had significant growth in net income and stock price by comparison with companies that has leaders with weak implementation for the five practices.
There is a direct proportion between the five practices and the financial performance for the company. The second research consisted over 66,000 survey responses completed over the past two years. The finding is that the organizations that their leaders engaged in the five practices of exemplary leadership have significantly high levels of important employee attitudes (International leadership associates , 2007). The evidence is clear that the main reason behind the success of any organization is the strength of its leadership.
Also, the evidence is strong that what make the leadership strong are the five practices of exemplary leadership. By these practices, leaders get extraordinary results and make significant differences in performance of their organizations. References Andy, S. (2006). challenge the process. ministry today magazine . bennis, w. (1997). leaders. new york: harper Business. Bennis, W. (2003). On becoming a leader. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Pub. Brown, M. (2011, 9 23). Credibility: A Critical Foundation of Leadership. Retrieved 2 23, 2012, from http://www. brownassociates. com/Blog/about International leadership associates . (2007). The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership. International leadership associates. Kouzes, J. M. , & Posner, B. Z. (2002). the leadership challenge. San Francisco: Jossey Bass. Magalhes, F. B. (n. d. ). Leaders and Followers. Emerging Leader . Yaverbaum, E. (2004). leadership secrets of the world’s most successful CEOs. chicago: dearborn trade publishing a kaplan proffessional company . Zenger, j. , ; folkman, j. (2007). the handbook for leaders.