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Apr 01 2018
Leadership Development
DeAnna Leahy, CCE, Sunroc Corporation

In the book The Leadership Challenge, the authors, Kouzes and Posner present the idea that leadership development is self-development. They write: "Wanting to lead and believing that you can lead are the departure points on the path to leadership. Leadership is an art - a performing art - and the instrument is the self." They go on to say that exemplary leaders tend to adhere to the following best practices. Leaders:

  • Model the way
  • Inspire a shared vision
  • Challenge the process
  • Enable others to act
  • Encourage the heart


According to the book, there are three ways that you can learn to lead. The first way is through experience; learning through trial and error. The second way is through example; learning by observing others. The third way in which we learn to lead is through education. Formal training and education can improve our chances of success. People who are always learning, tend to perform better as leaders. The more we seek to learn, the better we will become at leading.

The ten tips the authors give for becoming a better leader are:

  1. Be self-aware - the best leaders are highly attuned to what is going on inside of them.
  2. Manage your emotions - self-control is significant. Good leaders are careful not to let their feelings manage them. Instead, they manage their feelings.
  3. Seek feedback - the best leaders ask for feedback from others; not only about what they are doing well but also about what they are not doing well.
  4. Take the initiative -  the best leaders take the initiative to find and solve problems and to meet and create challenges. They are proactive rather than reactive.
  5. Engage a coach - effective coaches can be a valuable resource and can be from inside or outside of the organization.
  6. Set goals and establish a plan - exemplary leaders made sure that the work they do to develop themselves is not pointless ambling but purposeful action.
  7. Practice, practice, practice - people who practice more often are more likely to become experts at what they do.
  8. Measure progress - measuring progress is crucial to improvement, no matter what the activity. A good leader will create a system that enables them to monitor and measure progress on a regular basis.
  9. Reward yourself - it is nice when others recognize you for your efforts, but that does not always happen. Create some ways to reward yourself for achieving your goals.
  10. Be honest with yourself and humble with others - credibility is the foundation of leadership and honesty is at the top of the list of what people look for in a leader. Being honest means that you are willing to admit mistakes and be open to suggestions for improvement. Humility is the only way to resolve the conflicts and contradictions of leadership.

 We never know when the leader in each of us will get the call to step forward. As Kouzes and Posner state in the book, "Perhaps none of us knows our true strength until challenged to bring it forth."