Exemplary Leaders

Everyone has the capacity to lead and yet there is a great concern and shortage of those who become great leaders. According to the book “Learning Leadership” by James M. Kouzes & Barry Z. Posner, the following information has been gathered as a brief summary from the book.

There is a gap between the age of people trained in leadership and those put into supervisory roles. Today there is a great majority of people with wrong mindsets towards leadership. They believe that leadership is only for people with special abilities and/or talents.

“You can learn to be a better leader than you are today if you believe in yourself, aspire to be great, challenge yourself to grow, engage the support of others, and practice at it deliberately.”

Research shows that there are specific practices associated with the exemplary leader but that the challenge is to use them often enough so you can become confident using them.

All of us can lead because we have the inherent ability within us but many times we’re held back because of these, 5 Key Myths:

  1. Talent Myth: “Leadership is not a talent but an observable, learnable set of skills and abilities”. We have to believe we can be better.
  2. Position Myth: Leadership has nothing to do with title or position. It’s all about what we do, envisage the future and let it guide you and help others. We should aspire to excel.
  3. Strengths Myth: It isn’t about only doing what we’re strong at but it’s also about pushing ourselves in the face of challenges and adversity, to overcome our weaknesses, learning from our mistakes and taking the time to develop new skills and abilities in the process. We need to challenge ourselves.
  4. Self-Reliance Myth: This is not about being independent and never in doubt or even being a hero. The best leaders also have coaches and mentor. The seek support from others. We should also engage support in our learning and growth.
  5. “It-All-Comes-Naturally” Myth: Just because leadership seems natural and easy doesn’t mean it is so. Great leadership comes from regular, ongoing practice and self-improvement. To become an exemplary leader, practice leadership deliberately.

“What actually differentiates the expert performers from the good performers is their dedication to doing something everyday to improve.”

“To become an exemplary leader, you have to move past the myths and get down to applying the fundamentals that will enable you to learn and grow as a leader.”

Leaders make a difference, bringing out the best in others. “Leadership makes a difference. The difference can be negative or positive…The choice is yours.”

Developing the 5 Fundamentals of Leadership

  1. Believe you Can. Believe in yourself. “No one is going to follow you for very long if you aren’t willing to follow yourself.” Have a growth mindset and a regular learning routine of reading, reflecting, and learning from role models.
  2. Aspire to Excel. The most respected leaders have a clear set of values and beliefs. Clarity improves engagement. “No one can put leadership into you. You have to bring it out of yourself.”
  3. Challenge yourself. To become the best leader you can be, you need to constantly push outside your comfort zone. Be resilient. Have courage.
  4. Engage Support. Don’t lead alone. Seek advice, help and support from others. Build strong, personal connections and seek feedback to know how you’re doing and where/how to improve.
  5. Practice Deliberately. Make time and effort. You must design activities to develop a specific expertise. Cultivate a daily learning habit.

“Learning leadership is not something you add on to your already-busy schedule…it’s something you do as automatically and instinctively as your other important priorities in the day.”

“You have to commit to the habit of learning something new every day and the habit of assessing your progress every day.”

“The proof that you know leadership is in the doing of it.”

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