An excerpt from “For Leadership, Like Everything Else, Practice Makes Perfect” by Roger Trapp, Forbes
We couldn’t agree more with the five fundamental principles that sit at the heart of Kouzes and Posner’s approach to leadership. We hope you take some time to read these and when you are ready to put them into action, we’re here to help:
- Believe In Yourself. Kouzes and Posner stress the importance of having a strong belief in your capabilities and a mindset that leadership can be learned. This is not to be confused with arrogance or being convinced they know it all. Indeed, Kouzes and Posner are adamant that “the best leaders are the best learners.” These leaders believe that they are capable of learning and developing throughout their lives and so continuous learning becomes a way of life for them.
- Aspire To Be Great. This is related to the first fundamental in that the authors assert that leaders need to know who they are and what is important to them. “You can’t lead others if you don’t know yourself,” they say. Aspiring to be great also – obviously – requires being concerned about the future and realizing that “who you are today is not who you will be in the future, and the same is true for your constituents.” At the same time, leaders need to acknowledge that this is not just about the leader’s personal aspirations. “Leadership requires you to know and appreciate your constituents,” say Kouzes and Posner.
- Challenge Yourself To Grow. Would-be leaders need to take the initiative in their own development. Although there will inevitably by setbacks and failures, “grit, courage, and resilience” will enable individuals to overcome them and persist in learning and becoming the best they can be.
- Engage The Support Of Others. Everybody who achieves excellence receives support and coaching along the way. And leaders are no different. They need the advice, care and support of others. For this reason, a key part of learning leadership is making connections in a network of resources. Leaders also need honest feedback on how they are progressing or growing and on what still needs to be done.
- Practice Deliberately. Kouzes and Posner’s final fundamental stresses that it is not enough just to be a leader. “You have to spend time practicing the skills.” This involves setting goals, participating in activities designed to enhance performance, seeking feedback and receiving feedback. “You also have to put in the time every day and make learning leadership a daily habit,” write Kouzes and Posner.