Leadership is Everyone's Business - Kouzes & Posner
As soon as I saw the title of Chapter 13 -- Leadership is Everyone’s Business -- I knew it was going to resonate with me personally. We often think of leaders as people with special power or responsibilities. In fact, we all have opportunities to lead in our day-to-day lives. If we do not consider ourselves leaders, then we will often overlook those chances. If we do not practice and hone our leadership skills in these common place situations, then we have little hope of being prepared when a more meaningful leadership challenge arises. As Kouzes & Posner explain, “As each of us takes individual responsibility for creating the world of our dreams, we can all participate in leading” (p. 346).
(I do not say this as someone who has mastered Kouzes & Posners exemplary leadership practices, or any other collection of leadership skills. Just as someone who feels strongly that they are important skills to develop.)
In what arenas of your life do you consider yourself a leader? How did Kouzes and Posner influence your perspective on your role?
Kouzes & Posner’s begin the chapter by pointing out that managers make the difference for their employees. This reinforces the age-old adage that “People choose to join companies, but they decide to leave managers.” Later, the authors reiterate this concept with stories demonstrating the meaningful impact that leaders have on their constituents.
How does your relationship with your direct manager influence how you feel about your job and/or organization? Can you think of another factor that has more influence? Have you ever left a company because of your manager?
Kouzes & Posner provide a powerful reminder that leadership skills can be developed. “It’s not the absence of leadership potential that inhibits the development of more leaders, it’s the persistence of the myth that leadership can’t be learned. This haunting myth is a far more powerful deterrent to leadership development than is the nature of the person or the basics of the leadership process” (p. 340). Everyone is encouraged to develop their own leadership skills and to help those around us do the same. The organization that I work for takes the position that “Everyone is a leader.” It is a good reminder that we are all responsible for our actions, and (to some extent) how those actions impact the people around us. Occasionally, it also seems like an excuse for not holding those with positional power accountable for their behaviors.
What negative consequences to you foresee in everyone considering him/herself a leader? How might those consequences be mitigated?
The book ends with a surprising twist, declaring that “”The best-kept secret of successful leaders is love” (p. 351). Kouzes & Posner go on to say that successful leaders stay in love with “leading, with the people who do the work, with what their organizations produce,” and customers.
What role has love played in your experiences as leaders? Do you agree that is “the secret to success?