The number of books written on leadership each year is staggering, so to have credibility in the field over time is an accomplishment. What I like about the writing of Kouzes and Posner is that it is based on years of research, it is practical and accessible, and reveals biblical concepts.
Their recent book, The Truth About Leadership: The No-Fads, Heart of the Matter Facts You Need to Know, is just that kind of writing. They lay out ten truths in succeeding chapters. To the point of my title, most leader role models are local. In their research with 18-30 year olds, they found that people named family members as being the most impactful role models in their lives, followed by teachers/coaches, and then community or religious leaders.
What are the four characteristics of admired leaders that have been selected over 60% of the time? What are the character qualities that people most want in a leader?
Topping the list at 85% is honesty. (This certainly explains why “Honest Abe” who told the United States the truth about the human condition, heads the lists of most admired presidents, and why those who deceived the nation are at the bottom.)
Next is forward-looking. In a later chapter entitled, “The Best Leaders are the Best Learners,” the authors make a strong case for learning being the master skill of leadership. (I have decreasing patience for teachers and administrators who have stopped learning and resist new learning – it is not how God made us to be!) Again citing research, they mention that “learning agility” is the best predictor of success in a new job.
The third characteristic is inspiring. This speaks to enthusiasm, passion, energy, commitment, hope and vision. If you are not passionate about what you are doing, how can expect your teachers, students, or parents at your school to be passionate?
The final characteristic, getting more than 60% of the vote, is competence. Do you know what you are doing? Can you follow through? Can you get things done? Can you admit when you need help but are eager to learn? Do we do what we say we will do?
This book is a very helpful, readable, well-researched work that can be read in chapter chunks. I recommend you pick it up – we are all leaders!