What makes a great leader? A leader is a person who wants to be the face of an organization, the person responsible for success and failure, the person who has all the right answer, and is someone who has no room for improvement. These tend to be commonly held beliefs in our society and “A Leader’s Legacy” sets out to show how these beliefs are not only wrong but how true leaders act. The book discusses what it is to be a leader and how legacies are left behind. The book disputes leaders are born or made, and shows that leaders aren’t always the charismatic or natural leaders.
After reading “A Leader’s Legacy” by Kouzes and Posner, these authors’ purposes were to demonstrate that a leader does not always have to be a charismatic to be a greater leader. The book defines a leader by saying “A leader is a person who wants to be the face of an organization, the responsibility for success and failure, the person who has all the right answer, and is someone who has no room for improvement.” (Kouzes & Posner, 2006) Kouzes and Posner book “A Leader’s Legacy” exposes how these beliefs are not only wrong, but also show how true leaders actually act. The authors Kouzes and Posner divided the book into four major parts, explaining what makes a great leader and they are:
- The first part is Significance, “Being a leader brings with it a responsibility to do something of significance that makes families, communities, work organizations, nations, the environment, and the world better places than they are today”.
- The second is Relationship, “Leadership is a relationship. It’s a relationship between those who aspire to lead and those who choose to follow”.
- The third is Aspirations, “Leadership development is first and foremost self-development. Becoming a leader begins with an exploration of the inner territory as we search to find our own authentic voice. Leaders must decide on what matters in life, before they can live a life that matters”
- The fourth is Courage, “Leadership is about taking people to places they’ve never been before, and we can’t go to those places without courage. Leadership is courage in action“. (Kouzes & Posner, 2006)
The book demonstrates the purpose that leaders aren’t always the charismatic natural leaders. The book establishes what makes a great leader by showing leaders much have vision, passion, trust, willing to take risks, communicate clearly, decision maker, courage, integrity and delivers results. Kouzes and Posner points out leader are unbelievably human and are anything but the stereotypical leader type and show that even the most uncharismatic of people can be leaders.
Do Kouzes and Posner adequately consider and refute opposing viewpoints? Yes, Kouzes and Posner refute opposing viewpoints on being a great leader. Kouzes and Posner argue whether leaders are not actually born or made, but all leaders are actually born in the most of the literal sense of the word. The book demonstrates time and time again that leaders aren’t always the charismatic leaders. Kouzes and Posner asked what is a leader? The common beliefs in our society today is, “A leader is a person who wants to be the face of an organization, the person responsible for success and failure, the person who has all the right answer, and the person who has no room for improvement”. Kouzes and Posner sets out to show how these beliefs are not only wrong, but how true leaders act in todays society. Todays leader most have empathy, confidence, innovation, and knowledge. Kouzes and Posner also point out to be an aspiring leader you need to have several traits.
- Vision – Leaders have great vision.
- Passion – Leaders love what they do and communicate their passion to enroll and inspire others to action.
- Trust – Developing trust is more a product of leadership than an ingredient of it.
- Willing to take risks – Great leaders are curious and daring.
- Communicate dearly – Effective leaders don’t mince words and they’re not afraid to have difficult conversations.
- Decision maker – Leaders learn to make tough decisions based on sound principles, many times having little information.
- Congruence – Leaders they make mistakes, but in all their actions they remain consistent with the principles and values they teach and adhere to.
- Integrity – Leaders must act with integrity in every action.
Kouzes and Posner believe that the even most uncharismatic leaders can have these traits and still be a great leader. One good example uncharismatic leader is Audie Murphy. The Army, the Navy, the Marine rejected him because wasn’t the ideal soldiers. Audie Murphy may not have been the most charismatic person, but he had heart, courage, passion, and determination to be a soldier, and was one of the most famous and most decorated American combat soldiers of World War II. I agreed with Kouzes and Posner that the most charismatic leader isn’t always the best candidate to be a leader of an organization and uncharismatic leader can be a great leader if given a chance. The authors Kouzes and Posner demonstrate leadership is determined by a combination of many traits and behaviors, not just one, nor is there only one area for people to exhibit leadership qualities. “Our point of view is that some leaders want to be leaders and see themselves as leaders. Others rise to the occasion. (Kouzes & Posner, 2006)
Kouzes and Posner discusses what it is to be a leader and how legacies are left behind and show us that leaders who are too caught up in trying to leave behind a legacy don’t often leave behind an effectively legacy. The book wasn’t to show how awesome and amazing leaders are, but to encourage them and show that even the most uncharismatic of people can be leaders through self-examination. The purpose of the book was to show that everything leaders do is about providing services and to solve problems to meet their needs. Kouzes and Posner asked “What kind of difference do I want to make?” Both authors believe each of us, whether we intend to or not will become at some point a character in someone’s story. (Kouzes & Posner, 2006) The book demonstrates that leadership is a relationship between those who aspire to lead, those who choose to follow, and leadership requires engaging others”. (Kouzes & Posner, 2006) Kouzes and Posner believe peoples’ aspirations should be commit to causes and not to plans. “Leadership isn’t about selling your vision; it’s about articulating the people’s vision “. (Kouzes & Posner, 2006) Kouzes and Posner describe leadership as courage in action, taking a stand on things that matter, and facing your fears. The book challenges the reader to take to heart the messages and lessons learned from the book and try to practice them. I would like to close with a quote from the authors of A Leader’s Legacy. “The best way to lead people into the future is to connect with them deeply in the present”. (Kouzes & Posner, 2006)
Kouzes & Posner, (A Leader’s Legacy, 2006)
Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner are the co-author of the several award-winning best selling books on Leadership. Jim Kouzes is an Executive Fellow at the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Leavey School of Business at Santa Clara University. Barry Posner is the Dean of the Leavey School of Business, and professor of leadership at Santa Clara University.
The Pioneer Press, A Leader’s Legacy, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mgiYrBj94qY