Russell's Reviews > The Leadership Challenge

The Leadership Challenge by James M. Kouzes
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's review
Jan 12, 2008

liked it
Read in December, 2006

I received this book from my father-in-law for my birthday (2006). He's using it as a textbook for a leadership course at Neumont University. Most business-related books I've read (like The Tipping Point, almost done which is why I don't have a post yet) seem to be filled to the brim with case studies. While I understand the importance of citing evidence in the proposed point(s) of the book, it seems very "fluffy" to me and I tend to scan rather than digest. This book follows that recipe and the baked product is chock full of personal and corporate experiences. So I scanned, a lot. But less so in the latter half. I liked the material they present and generally agree with the their suggestions and presentation. This is a good reference book for evaluating various aspects of leadership.

So all in all, I'd probably rate this book about 3.5 out of 5 . I read Principle-Centered Leadership 8 years ago, in my opinion it remains victor in terms of quality. However, I do like that this book provides lots of suggestions and options in terms of exercising leadership qualities.

Good points:

* p. 21, "Among the items was a question about the qualities that were important in a good leader. Topping respondents' list is "Being able to see a situation from someone else's point of view". In second place, "Getting along well with other people."

* p. 49 "Yes, (personal) values are guides, but how much difference does being clear about values make?...[study result.s] clearly indicate that values make a significant difference in behavior at work"

* p. 196 "Our research is very clear. People do better work when they feel challenged...For people to excel, they must find what they do intrinsically motivating--and challenge is a major motivator, along with skill and interest."

* p. 197 "Aim to have everyone actively searching for opportunities to innovate, grow and improve."

* p. 201 "Teams go through life cycles, just as product do. Even the best teams get stale and need to be refreshed. Never let teams get disconnected form outside information. Make sure members attend professional conferences, participate in training programs, and visit colleagues in other parts of the organization."

* p. 209 "The small wins process enables leaders to build constituents commitment to a course of action."

* p. 266 "We can't stress enough the power of collaboration. The old American myth that competition is the path to business heaven has died a slow death...We must all recognize that collaboration...produces more gains than trying to beat the stuffing out of someone or something."

* p. 386 "Leadership is not a place, it's not a gene, it's not a secret code that can't be deciphered by ordinary people. The truth is that leadership is an observable set of skills and abilities that are useful whether one is in the executive suite or on the front line, on Wall Street or Main Street, in any campus, community, or corporation. And any skill can be strengthened, honed, and enhanced, given the motivation and desire, the practice and feedback, and the role models and coaching."

* p. 397 "Humility is the only way to resolve the conflicts and contradictions of leadership.

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