Working on a Dream




Friday, November 12, 2010

5 Elements of a Great Leader [Do you make the Cut?]

When it comes to defining leadership, no one does it better than Kouzes & Posner.
In their excellent book titled, "The Leadership Challenge," they outline the 5 aspects that make a leader go from average to great.  Below, I summarize their key points. 

Leaders establish principles concerning the way people should be treated and the way goals should be pursued. They create standards of excellence and then set an example for others to follow. Because the prospect of complex change can overwhelm people and stifle action, they set interim goals so that people can achieve small wins as they work toward larger objectives. They unravel bureaucracy when it impedes action; they put up signposts when people are unsure of where to go or how to get there; and they create opportunities for victory. 
Anthony's Summary:  Leadership first starts with the leader.  In order to lead, you must first "be" before you can "do."


Leaders passionately believe that they can make a difference. They envision the future, creating an ideal and unique image of what the organization can become. Through their magnetism and quiet persuasion, leaders enlist others in their dreams. They breathe life into their visions and get people to see exciting possibilities for the future.
Anthony's Summary: Leadership is about creating a preferred future.  The Bible says, "Where there is no vision, the people will perish."

Leaders search for opportunities to change the status quo. They look for innovative ways to improve the organization. In doing so, they experiment and take risks. And because leaders know that risk taking involves mistakes and failures, they accept the inevitable disappointments as learning opportunities.
Anthony's Summary:  A great leader challenges assumed constraints and seeks to remove roadblocks that stand in the way of healthy change.

Leaders foster collaboration and build spirited teams. They actively involve others. Leaders understand that mutual respect is what sustains extraordinary efforts; they strive to create an atmosphere of trust and human dignity. They strengthen others, making each person feel capable and powerful.
Anthony's Summary:  Let's get real, if you want to accomplish anything of worth in this life, you will need at least one other person to join you along in the process.  Teamwork is essential for the leader because they know that anything worth doing is worth doing with a great group of people. 

Accomplishing extraordinary things in organizations is hard work. To keep hope and determination alive, leaders recognize contributions that individuals make. In every winning team, the members need to share in the rewards of their efforts, so leaders celebrate accomplishments. They make people feel like heroes.
Anthony's Summary: I know far too many so-called leaders that "wield the hammer" over their workers.  This is not a mark of great leadership, rather it is a telling sign of incompetence.

Anthony's Challenge
Stop looking out of your window and judging those around you; a mark of an authentic leader is self-reflection. My advice is to step away from the window and stand in front of a mirror.

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