Jim Kouzes is the Dean’s Executive Fellow of Leadership at the Leavey School of Business at Santa Clara University. He is also a lecturer and the co-author of the best-selling book, The Leadership Challenge. He has been cited by The Wall Street Journal as one of the 12 best executive educators in the US and ranked by Leadership Excellence magazine as 16th on their list of the top 100 thought leaders. He joins Marcel Schwantes to talk about the relationship between leadership and adversity.
- Historically, many leaders who changed and shaped the world did so in the face of adversity and unfortunate circumstances. Jim defines leadership as the art of mobilizing others to want to struggle for shared aspirations. [6:23]
- At Marcel’s request, Jim condenses his years of research and data into three lessons: leadership is a set of skills and abilities; leadership is everyone’s business; and leadership is a relationship between those who aspire to lead and those who choose to follow. The five practices of exemplary leadership are: model the way; inspire a shared vision; challenge the process; enable others to act; and encourage the heart. [9:58]
- “Adversity is the opportunity for greatness,” Marcel quotes from one of Jim’s books. He asks Jim to explain the meaning. Adversity forces you to do things differently, Jim argues. He observed that most people credit their personal best to a challenge they overcame. [13:36]
- Studies show that leaders who display more empathy and compassion are better able to: walk in another person’s shoes, act on their understanding of others, and have higher levels of commitment to their organizations. Jim gives an example of a micro-action that leaders can do to demonstrate these positive traits. [17:41]
- Marcel asks Jim why he thinks some leaders still lead through fear. Jim says it may be because of belief: those with fixed mindsets are less likely to engage in exemplary leadership practices. Additionally, one of the ways people learn how to lead is by observing others. If leaders model tactics of fear and intimidation and they seem to work, their successors are likely to lead the same way. However, this kind of leadership is not sustainable, he points out. [24:50]
- One of the ten truths of leadership is that a leader’s behavior matters, as it has a direct impact over employee engagement. The most challenging exemplary leadership practice is inspiring a shared vision, Jim adds. Many leaders find it difficult to communicate their ideas in a way that they are confident their constituents understand. [30:26]
- Jim says, “The secret to success is staying in love. Staying in love gives you the fire to ignite a flame in others and have a greater sense of purpose. A person who is not in love does not feel the kind of excitement necessary to get ahead and to lead others. There is no other thing in life that is more positive and exhilarating than love.” [35:56]
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