The Leadership Challenge.
Aptly titled, right? Not the Leadership Movement. Not the Leadership Training. Not the Leadership Exercise.
Jim Kouzes, co-author of the Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations, has been working in leadership training and executive coaching for more years than I have been alive: 35 years. He has recognized something brilliant when it comes to leadership, based on empirical evidence.
He states, "It dawned on me, [people] are best as leaders when we are facing a challenge and it takes us to another level...it brings out the best in us."
When researching for his book The Leadership Challenge in the 1980's, Jim Kouzes asked respondents to tell them what qualities they look for and admire in a leader. Four behavior-led attributes emerged over the rest.
88% rate honesty as the most important. Honesty is strongly tied to values and ethics. People admire leaders who know where they stand on important principles and have confidence in their own beliefs.
71% want a leader with a vision, and a concern for the direction of the organization. No one wants to follow someone who is lost. As Jim puts it, "You wouldn't get on an airplane if that Captain didn't know where he was going!"
Employees look for a leader that knows what they are doing and can get the job done. It’s important that the leader takes the time to learn the business and to know the current mission at hand. Without competence, it's difficult to display any sort of expertise.
Employees want someone who is charismatic, energetic and positive. While leaders define the content of the work to be done, they can make the context far more meaningful if they’re able to inspire people.
"Sharing an inspired vision...it's an expectation. People need to know where we're headed and it must be shared! This is a direction that you first want to go in, something you believe in personally, something significant to you, the leader," explains Jim.
Leadership is a relationship between those who aspire to lead and those who choose to follow...The content of leadership doesn't change, but the context changes. -- Jim Kouzes, Co-author of the Leadership Challenge
Who would you willingly follow?
Who can touch your heart and inspire you?
And most importantly, how can you do that to others?