This paper provides a general overview of leadership and its role in an organisational context. It then introduces a leadership framework constructed by Kouzes & Posner and how you might use it to increase your leadership effectiveness.

Management relates to the processes that keep an organisation functioning such as planning, budgeting, defining roles, resourcing and measuring performance.

Leadership is very different. It is about aligning people to a future vision, effective communication, motivation and inspiration. In essence leadership is about relationships.

Both leadership and management are vital in an organisation. Whilst they are distinct, many people are both managers and leaders in their lives. Critically, it is not your view as to whether or not you are a leader but the perception of others that matters.

The Significance of Leadership

Research indicates that the number one reason leaders succeed is the quality of their relationships. On the flip side, the main reason people voluntarily leave an organisation is that they have relationship issues with their immediate manager(s). In other words, people don’t leave organisations, they tend to leave leaders.

In addition, there is evidence to indicate that those who develop their leadership skills benefit from:

  • Having a high-performance team
  • Fostering loyalty and commitment
  • Having a high degree of personal credibility
  • Being effective in meeting job-related demands
  • Being able to increase motivation levels

Whilst followers of such leaders:

  • Feel attached and committed to the organisation
  • Have a sense of ownership of the organisation
  • Feel a strong sense of team spirit
  • See their own personal values as consistent with those of the organisation
  • Are proud to tell others they’re part of the organisation

The other good news is that research indicates people can increase their leadership effectiveness by being aware of what behaviours constitute good leadership, and seeking to apply such behaviours over time. With commitment, feedback and application there should be nothing stopping you from being a great leader.

Leadership Styles

There is a plethora of leadership styles, based on observation of leaders across organisations, the armed forces and broader society. These include:

  • Transformational Leader
    This is a style of leadership where the leader identifies a vision of the future, and motivates and inspires others to achieving that vision. Such leaders will be effective at communicating their vision to their team, be visible and lead by example.
  • Situational Leader
    Hersey & Blanchard argue that leaders should adapt their style to the development level of team members assessed in terms of competence (ability) and commitment (willingness).
  • Servant Leader
    Robert Greenleaf: “Great leaders are servants first and that simple fact is the key to their greatness.” A servant leader is one who often leads by putting the needs of the organisation before their own. They often lead by example.
  • Level 5 Leader
    Level 5 Leadership, coined by Jim Collins in his book “Good to Great”, highlighted humility and will/drive as the two most important leadership traits.
  • Autocratic Leader
    Autocratic leadership, also known as authoritarian leadership, is a leadership style characterised by individual control over all decisions with little input from group members.
  • Democratic Leader
    Democratic leadership is a leadership style in which members of the group take a more participative role in the decision-making process. Team members are often more motivated by such an approach, although the pace of decision making can be slower.
  • Transactional Leader
    The transactional leadership style views the leader-follower relationship as a transaction. By accepting a position as a member of the group, the individual has agreed to obey the leader. Benefits include clarity of roles and responsibilities; however, it can stifle creativity.

No style of leadership necessarily fits all situations, but it is useful to be aware of different leadership frameworks and approaches. One common aspect of all leadership frameworks, as discussed at the start, is that they all focus on the relationship between the leader and others.

Remember that these relationships aren’t solely those with people inside your organisation (although these are extremely important) but also extend externally to clients, other organisations and suppliers.

A leadership framework which we use with our clients, and which considers leadership in its broadest context, is one developed by Jim Kouzes & Barry Posner, academics turned businessmen, who have been working together in the leadership development field for over thirty years. Their leadership framework has been used by corporate organisations, government bodies and education authorities with around 3 million users to date.

What we like about their framework is that it is both straightforward to understand and follow, yet rigorous in its construction.

Leaders can also ask colleagues and others to provide feedback on their leadership ability in a consistent manner to help develop their leadership style over time. This is called the Leadership Practice Inventory 360 Feedback process (shortened to LPI 360), discussed further below.

The Kouzes and Posner Leadership Framework

Following several iterative psychometric processes, leadership assessments were created and administered to managers and non-managers across a variety of organisations, disciplines, and demographic backgrounds.

From this analysis Kouzes & Posner determined five complementary behaviours that were effective at defining good leadership practice (the Kouzes and Posner’s Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® model):

  1. Model the way (lead by example)
  2. Inspire a Shared Vision
  3. Challenge Processes
  4. Enable Others to Act
  5. Encourage the Heart

These are described in more detail overleaf. Test and retest reliability of each practice is high. In addition, results have high face validity and predictive validity: the results make sense to people and, over time, have proven to predict high performing leaders and moderate to low performing ones. Overall, the LPI has been extensively applied in many organisational settings and is highly regarded in both the academic and practitioner world.

The five complementary practices of leadership are discussed in more detail as follows:

  • Model the Way
    People don’t believe the message unless they believe the messenger. Credibility is the foundation of leadership and credibility is “Doing what you say you will do.” Leaders know what they stand for and what they won’t stand for. They know their own values and they express those values in their own style. People follow leaders who know who they are and have courage in their own convictions.
  • Inspire a Shared Vision
    Leaders believe that they can make a difference. They can visualise the future but they enlist others by appealing to shared aspirations. They get people to see how their own dreams can be realised through a common vision.
  • Challenge Processes
    The work of leaders is change. The Status Quo is unacceptable to them. Leaders search for new opportunities, new ways of doing things and ways to improve and innovate. Leaders experiment and take calculated risks. They learn from mistakes. Leaders demonstrate courage and resilience despite opposition and setback.
  • Enable Others to Act
    Leaders know that they can’t do it alone. They foster collaboration, promote cooperative goals and generate a sense of “We’re all in this together.” They understand that mutual respect sustains extraordinary efforts. They share power, provide others with choices, make others feel competent and confident.
  • Encourage the Heart
    The climb can be steep. People become exhausted, frustrated and disenchanted. They are tempted to give up. Leaders encourage the hearts of others to carry on. To maintain hope and determination, leaders recognise contribution by showing appreciation for individual excellence.

The actions that make up these practices were translated into 30 behavioural statements as follows:

Model the Way

  1. Sets a personal example of what is expected.
  2. Makes certain that people adhere to agreed standards.
  3. Follows through on promises and commitments.
  4. Asks for feedback on how his/her actions affect people’s performance.
  5. Builds consensus around organisation’s values.
  6. Is clear about his/her philosophy of leadership.

Inspire a Shared Vision

  1. Talks about future trends influencing our work.
  2. Describes a compelling image of the future.
  3. Appeals to others to share dream of the future.
  4. Shows others how their interests can be realised.
  5. Paints the “big picture” of group aspirations.
  6. Speaks with conviction about meaning of work.

Challenge Processes

  1. Seeks challenging opportunities to test skills.
  2. Challenges people to try new approaches.
  3. Searches outside organisation for innovative ways to improve.
  4. Asks “What can we learn?”
  5. Makes certain that goals, plans and milestones are set.
  6. Experiments and takes risks.

Enable Others to Act

  1. Develops cooperative relationships.
  2. Actively listens to diverse points of view.
  3. Treats people with dignity and respect.
  4. Supports decisions other people make.
  5. Gives people choice about how to do their work.
  6. Ensures that people grow in their jobs.

Encourage the Heart

  1. Praises people for a job well done.
  2. Expresses confidence in people’s abilities.
  3. Creatively rewards people for their contributions.
  4. Recognises people for commitment to shared values.
  5. Finds ways to celebrate accomplishments.
  6. Gives team members appreciation and support.

Developing your Leadership Capability

A first step would be to review the description of the five leadership practices as above, and consider them in the context of how you feel you behave. Then consider each leadership practice in more detail by reflecting on the six behavioural statements for each one, as given on the previous page.

We suggest you then write down 3-5 specific actions that you wish to take forward over the next 3 months, and review the position at the end of that period.

However, your leadership journey will be much better informed if you seek the views of others. You can do so by asking others to provide you with feedback as to how you behave relative to the 30 statements given above, using the Kouzes & Posner LPI 360 process as discussed as follows.

The LPI 360: Further Information

The LPI 360 is an observer-based tool for leaders and managers at all levels in an organisation—commercial, non-profit, education and government. The tool incorporates the LPI Self assessment (completed by the Leader) and the LPI Observer (completed by others chosen by the Leader) so that the leader can compare their self assessment against their Observers’ feedback. The 360 focuses on leadership effectiveness as well as the level of commitment, engagement, and satisfaction of those who follow.

Applying the principles of Kouzes and Posner’s Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® model, the LPI 360 enables individuals and organizations to measure their leadership competencies and act on their discoveries. Leaders will gain deep insight into how they see themselves as leaders, how others view them, and what actions they can take to improve their effectiveness.

Typically, it takes an Observer approximately 30 minutes to complete the LPI 360; 10-15 minutes to score the 30 statements and a further 15 minutes to respond to the four open-ended questions.
Leaders choose their own Observers which fall into four categories; Line Manager, Co-workers, Direct Reports and Others. Leading Figures recommends a minimum of 10 Observers and an optimum of 12 with at least 3 Co-workers, 3 Direct Reports and 3 Others (as well as one Line Manager).

The Line Manager’s scores are identifiable, the rationale being that leaders should already be aware of their Line Manager’s feedback and, if not, the feedback should be something they can easily speak to their Line Manager about.

Further Information

Please contact either Russell Borland or Thomas Chalmers if you would like to discuss leadership in more detail.

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