Book Review: The Truth About Leadership

Sorry for the delayed posting – last book on my read 3 books on sabbatical.  This book was The Truth About Leadership by James Kouzes and Barry Posner.  One question that they get is “What is new in leadership?” Context has changed, but content has not. The fundamental behaviors, actions and practices of leaders pretty much remained the same. I really enjoyed seeing “The NO-FADS Heart-of-the-Matter FACTS YOU NEED TO KNOW” – eye catching. From their research over the past 30 years, over a million responses to their assessment – comes the book and the ten truths!

  1. You Make a Difference. Before you lead you have to believe that you can have a positive impact on others. This is one of the first things I want to hear from anyone that wants to lead. I will be teaching a few New Manager classes over the rest of the year, I wonder how many times I will hear make a difference?
  2. Credibility Is the Foundation of Leadership. If people don’t believe in you, they won’t willingly follow you. You must do what you say you are going to do. Actions speak much larger than words. Just think for every person that you have in your organization, multiply by 2… That is the number of eyes watching you.
  3.  Values Drive Commitment. You need to know what you believe in because you can only fully commit to the organization or cause when there is a good fit between what you value and the organization values. Many companies have their own set of values that you should follow – that is always a good starting point.
  4. Focusing on the Future Sets Leaders Apart. You have to be forward looking; it’s the quality that most differentiates leaders from individual contributors. You need to spend time reflecting on the future. Blocking time on your calendar for reflecting is critical. Leaders that just run from meeting to meeting – really are either in the day to day or worse – the past.
  5. You Can’t Do It Alone. Leadership is a team sport, and you need to engage others in the cause. You need to enable others to be even better than they already are. Insuring that your team is built on many different strengths (and having the weaknesses of others covered) – will make the overall team powerful. Getting that power fully engaged  will be something to see.
  6. Trust Rules. To enlist others, you need trust. Build mutual trust; you must trust others too. I had an experience, during a trust workshop that the orgs leader actually committed on I should not have to worry about this. Wow, that set a tone for me.
  7. Challenge Is the Crucible of Greatness. Great achievements don’t happen when you keep things the same. Change invariably involves challenge, and challenge tests you. Most people just would rather have their teeth pulled than to change – one way to make change happen is to set challenging goals – make a game out of it. 
  8. You Either Lead by Example or You Don’t Lead at All. You have to go first as a leader. That’s what it takes to get others to follow your lead. All eyes are on the leader – think of it as a mirror – what the leader projects’ will be what others do. Make sure you project the right image you want!
  9. The Best Leaders Are the Best Learners. Learning is the master skill of leadership. Leaders are constant improvement fanatics. Never stop learning… The content has been around awhile – how you use it will be what is important. It is taking the learning’s and applying to action that counts.
  10. Leadership Is an Affair of the Heart. Leaders love what they’re doing and those they lead. Leaders make others feel great themselves and are gracious in showing their appreciation. 

Looking back at the truths, these should be the motivation behind the right kinds of behaviors that go with good and sustainable leadership.

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