The Leadership Challenge Overview

James Kouzes and Barry Posner are the authors of "The Leadership Challenge: How to Keep Getting Extraordinary Things Done in Organizations".

Since 1982, when they began their research, Kouzes and Posner have interviewed more than 500 individuals, reviewed more than twelve thousand case studies, and analyzed more than one million survey questionnaires to find out what leaders do when performing at their best. They were able to identify five practices and 10 commitments, common to most extraordinary leadership achievements.

Model, inspire, challenge, enable and encourage - the leadership challenge.

When leaders are at their best, they:

Model the way

  • Clarify values by finding your voicer and affirming shared values
  • Set the example by aligning actions with shared values

Inspire a shared vision

  • Envision the future by imagining exciting and ennobling possibilities
  • Enlist others in a common vision by appealing to shared aspirations

Challenge the process

  • Search for opportunities by seizing the initiative and by looking outward for innovative ways to improve
  • Experiment and take risks by constantly generating small wins and learning from experience

Enable others to act

  • Foster collaboration by building trust and facilitating relationships
  • Strengthen others by increasing self-determination and developing competence

Encourage the heart

  • Recognize contributions by showing appreciation for individual excellence
  • Celebrate the values and victories by creating a spirit of community

The Leadership Practice Inventory (LPI)

The LPI is one of the most widely used leadership assessment instruments in the world. More than two million leaders and their observers have completed the LPI since it first launched in 2002. Independent studies, along with Kouzes and Posner's own extensive research, consistently confirm that the LPI has very strong reliability and validity. More than 150 doctoral dissertations and academic projects have been based upon the Kouzes and Posner model of leadership.

The LPI has thirty behavioural statements, six for each of the Five Practices listed above. LPI participants indicate how frequently they engage in those behaviours on a scale ranging from 1, meaning 'almost never' to 10, meaning 'almost always'.

The LPI provides information about your leadership behaviours; it does not evaluate your IQ, leadership style, management skill or personality. The research consistently shows that increasing the frequency with which you engage in the behaviours measured by the LPI will make you a more effective leader.