In 2002, Jossey Bass published a book by James Kouzes and Barry Posner called The Leadership Challenge. Building upon the HerseyBlanchard model and other transformational leadership models, they went to the heart of what skills are required by the leader to stimulate such a transformation. What abilities are able to influence followers and bring them to accept the leader’s vision as their own? Which of these qualities do you possess? Which of these qualities do you need to develop? James Kouzes and Barry Posner asked thousands of people to rank list of characteristics associated with leadership, including the seven top qualities that motivated them to follow willingly. They gave this survey to over 75,000 people over a 20-year period. In their book, The Leadership Challenge, the authors identified five abilities that were crucial to successful leadership:

MODEL THE WAY: - You must lead by example. You can’t come into work 10 minutes late every day if you want your employees to arrive on time.

INSPIRE A SHARED VISION: - If you capture the imagination, you will inspire creative thought and increase loyalty. The vision doesn’t need to be grandiose, but it needs to be communicated effectively for others to adopt it as one of their own.

CHALLENGE THE PROCESS: - Don’t continue doing something just because “We’ve always done it that way.” Situations change, and sometimes a policy or procedure never worked well in the first place. Think outside the box.

ENABLE OTHERS TO ACT: - Truly empower people to act on their own within their level of authority. The famed Ritz-Carlton hotel empowers every employee at all levels to spend up to $1000 on behalf of a guest (who is informed reimbursement will be required for whatever request they make).

ENCOURAGE THE HEART - A positive attitude is infectious. If the leader appears passionate or excited about the vision, others will catch the enthusiasm as well.

• Creating an Action Plan: Now that you understand the various concepts, it’s time to plan how to put them into action by incorporating them into your life.

• Set Leadership Goals: In leadership, as in life, you will never come to the end of your learning, but you want to rank in priority order those qualities you want to develop.

• Address the Goals: Determine how you will accomplish your goals. Do you feel you need to learn more about teamwork so you can better lead a team? Join a team sport. Do you want to communicate better? Take a creative writing class or join Toastmasters and get some public speaking experience. Toastmasters are also great if you are shy and want to feel more comfortable in social situations.

• Seek Inspiration: Learn about a variety of leaders, including their styles with dealing with challenges. Read books and conduct research on the internet or at libraries.

• Choose a Role Model: Based on your research, choose a role model that fits your personality. You might choose a dynamic leader like Teddy Roosevelt, or an intellectual leader like Albert Schweitzer or Albert Einstein. Read several biographies and find videos on his or her life.

• Seek Experience: Take a leadership role on a social group or club. Gain experience working with people on many levels.

• Create a Personal Mission Statement: Imagine your legacy. How do you want to be remembered? What do you want people to think of you? What type of leader you determined to be? Write a statement that defines who you will become.