Instaread Summary, Analysis & Review of James Kouzes's and Barry Posner’s The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations
Three out of five stars
The authors of the book being examined are both academics at the Leavey Business School at Santa Clara University. That fact is clear when reading this summary, for the principles that they describe are excellent in theory and extremely hard in practice. The book is based on five key practices that successful leaders list as key moments. They are as follows:
*) “The first practice is for leaders to demonstrate ideal behavior for the team.”
*) “The second practice is to create an inspiring vision for the team to want to achieve.”
*) “The third practice is for leaders to innovate on the systems that the team uses.”
*) “The fourth practice is to give others the culture and skills they need in order to act.”
*) “The final practice is for every leader to encourage optimism within the team.”
All of which are easy to state and extremely hard to execute. For example, in reference to the first practice, “Exactly what is ideal behavior for the team?”
Each of these practices have been repeated over and over again in the literature regarding successful leaders and management, but have not been well implemented. There is a wide disparity in the personalities and tasks that employees are doing, so there is no generic way to execute any of these principles. The fifth is likely the easiest, but the encouragement cannot just simply be that of a cheerleader, there has to be context-specific direction.
The analysis sections after the statements of the key takeaways are clearly a repeat of the content of the book, there is little to nothing in the way of critical analysis. The author of the summary points out the lack of “How do you do that?” in the “Author’s Style” section.
“The authors do not have distinctive voices in the book; they spend much of the text relaying quotes from the people they interview. Little of the book is targeted directly to the reader in the form of advice or guidelines.”
In other words, a book about what to do with nothing regarding the how, one of the major complaints justifiably directed at academics.