Doing Life Together

leaderAre you a leader? You don’t have to be a CEO or President of an organization. You can be a leader in your family, school, church or in the community. One definition of a leader is someone who has followers.

We see and hear a lot about unhealthy leaders, but what about leaders who get it right? Can we identify practices that make a leader healthy?

In their “Leadership Practices Inventory,” Kouzes and Posner (1997) propose that exemplary leaders evidence five essential practices. They:

1) Challenge the process (seeking opportunities to challenge themselves and their organizations to improve beyond the status quo). Challenging the process can be threatening in organizations headed by insecure and unhealthy leaders. Challenge is not viewed as an opportunity for growth and creativity, but as a threat to the existing status quo. The healthy leader welcomes challenge, believing that new and innovative ways to see and do things only leads to growth.

2) Inspire a shared vision (a passionate belief in making a difference and creating a living breathing future direction for themselves and the organization). Inspiring vision is critical to providing meaning and direction for the future. Vision is where you begin, but has the end in sight. Vision creates clarity of purpose which is why the Bible says without it, a people perish. You lose sight and often lose heart when a vision isn’t clear or articulated. What is the vision for your family, your community, or your organization. Clarify it and then inspire others.

3) Enable others to act (fostering collaboration and team building) Empowering others to buy in, feel a part of the team and work together marks a healthy leader. Those who micromanage, refuse to delegate and create a top-down organization create an unhealthy dependence and paralysis in organizations and groups. Empower vs. do for!

4) Model the way (providing examples of the standards of excellence they espouse). Your parents said it and it’s true of any leader, “Actions speak louder than words.” No one likes to work for a hypocrite who says one thing and does another. Lead by example.

5) Encourage the heart (an element often also associated with a high EQ leader – emotional intelligence). Emotional intelligence requires awareness of your own emotions as well as the emotions of others. EQ leaders are more successful according to research. They foster a climate that  produces high performance. They have empathy, compassion and understand the needs of those they serve.


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