Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

The Leadership Challenge

The Leadership Challenge

3.6 21
by James M. Kouzes, Barry Z. Posner

See All Formats & Editions

The most trusted resource on becoming a leader is now updated and revised for a new generation.

This leadership classic continues to be a bestseller after three editions and twenty years in print. It is the gold standard for research-based leadership, and the premier resource on becoming a leader. This new edition, with streamlined text, more


The most trusted resource on becoming a leader is now updated and revised for a new generation.

This leadership classic continues to be a bestseller after three editions and twenty years in print. It is the gold standard for research-based leadership, and the premier resource on becoming a leader. This new edition, with streamlined text, more international and business examples, and a graphic redesign, is more readable and accessible than ever before. The Leadership Challenge, Fourth Edition, has been extensively updated with the latest research and case studies, and offers inspiring new stories of real people achieving extraordinary results. The authors' central theme remains the same and is more relevant today than ever: "Leadership is Everyones Business." Their "five practices" and "ten commitments" have been proven by hundreds of thousands of dedicated, successful leaders. This edition, with almost one-third new material, emphasizes the global community and refocuses on business leaders. Order your copy today.

Editorial Reviews

David S. Pottruck
This book is one of the very best on the topic of leadership, offering extraordinary stories from leaders at various ages and stages of their lives. Whether you're now in a leadership role and want to further strengthen and hone your skills, or you simply have the desire to learn to make a difference and help guide your company—or even friends and family members—to higher levels of success, you'll benefit by reading The Leadership Challenge. (president & CEO, The Charles Schwab Corporation)
Warren Bennis
The first edition was seminal and totally original. It became a modern classic on leadership practically overnight. With this new edition, with new cases and concepts and action steps that are even riper and more important, Kouzes and Posner go way beyond their earlier work and have made yet another brilliant contribution to leadership studies. This new book, a product of an unusual collaboration, is essential reading for everyone involved or concerned with leading. (distinguished Professor of Business Administration, University of Southern California, and coauthor, "Geeks and Geezers: How Era, Values, and Defining Moments Shape Leaders")
Rosabeth Moss Kanter
From the ten commitments of leadership to the emphasis on actions and relationships, this valuable book is full of enduring wisdom and practical insights essential for success in challenging times. (Harvard Business School, best-selling author of "Evolve! Succeeding in the Digital Culture of Tomorrow")
John C. Maxwell
For twenty-five years I have written about and taught leadership. The Leadership Challenge is one of the five best books I have ever read. I continually recommend it to others. (founder, The INJOY Group, and author, "The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership")
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
An inspirational and practical handbook, this expanded revision of a bestselling manual originally published in 1987 offers sound advice to corporate leaders and entrepreneurs, to managers and employees and to aspiring leaders in retail, manufacturing, government, community, church and school settings. Drawing on interviews and a questionnaire survey of more than 3000 leaders, the authors identify five fundamental practices of exemplary leadership: challenge the status quo; inspire a shared vision; enable others to act; model the way forward by setting an example; tap individuals' inner drives by linking rewards and performance. Kouzes, chairman and CEO of TPG/Learning Systems, and Posner, managing partner of Santa Clara University's Executive Development Center in California, write insightful, down-to-earth, jargon-free prose. This new edition has been substantially updated to reflect the challenges of shrinking work forces, rising cynicism and expanded telecommunications. An appendix includes the author's Leadership Practices Inventory, a tool for assessing leadership behavior. 75,000 first printing; Executive Program Book Club main selection; author tour. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Kouzes gives workshops in executive development and managing growth companies; Posner conducts seminars in communication, group dynamics, etc. Their excellent book on leadership for business executives covers identifying and developing leadership qualities, building commitment into action, and other important topics. In addition to discussing the theoretical foundations of leadership, the authors use many examples from work situations to demonstrate application. In a field in which many books are available, this one is readable, interesting, and up-to-date. Highly recommended for collections serving business executives and students. Grace Klinefelter, Ft. Lauderdale Coll. Lib., Fla.
From the Publisher
"The management classic", (Financial Times, Tuesday 11th September 2007)

"After 20 years in print, this key publication has undergone a substantial revision for its fourth edition." (People Management, Thursday 1st November 2007)

"After three editions and 20 years in print, this leadership classic continues to be the premier resource on becoming a leader."  (Securities & Investment Review, November 2007)

Product Details

Publication date:
Leadership Practices Inventory Series , #4
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
6.38(w) x 9.45(h) x 1.41(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 8: Sharing Power And Information

Share information so your employees can see how to help- and they'll improve the business.

Coordinator of the Guiding Team

If citizens are to take responsibility for governing, says Sunne McPeak, they must first be empowered. As president and CEO of the Bay Area Economic Forum and a former member of the Contra Costa County (California) Board of Supervisors, McPeak takes great pride in the large number of her constituents who continue their participation in local government activities long after their direct involvement with her. McPeak knows that when coalitions of highly diverse interests (such as growers and environmentalists in the Coalition to Stop the Peripheral Canal, which she co-chaired) come together, it's impossible for them to reach consensus and forge commitment unless they're provided with the skills and knowledge needed to make good judgments. For McPeak, keeping people informed, developing personal relationships among the participants, involving people in important decisions, and acknowledging and giving credit for people's contributions are essential to any process for reinventing government.

We find that, like McPeak, exemplary leaders make other people feel strong. They enable others to take ownership of and responsibility for their group's success. Long before empowerment was written into the popular vocabulary, credible leaders knew that only when their constituents felt strong, capable, and efficacious could they ever hope to get extraordinary things done. Constituents who feel weak, incompetent, and insignificant consistently underperform, they want to flee the organization, and they're ripe for disenchantment, even revolution.

People who feel powerless, be they managers or individual contributors, tend to hoard whatever shreds of power they have. Powerless managers, for example, tend to adopt petty and dictatorial styles. Powerlessness creates organizational systems in which political skills are essential and "covering yourself " and "passing the buck" are the preferred modes of handling interdepartmental differences.

When constituents have very little power, those in positions of authority can easily get people to follow orders. Under such circumstances, authority figures often attribute other people's behavior, no matter how good it is, to their own orders rather than to constituents' abilities and motivations. Stanford University researcher Jeffrey Pfeffer has found that "if behavior occurs in the presence of a great deal of external pressureeither positive in the form of monetary inducements or negative in the form of threats and sanctions-people are likely to conclude that the external forces both caused the behavior and were, in fact, necessary to produce it."

The most insidious thing about external control is that it actually erodes the intrinsic motivation that a person might have for a task. In other words, even the constituents begin to assume that only outside forces will compel them to do anything. And yet intrinsic motivation is esential to getting extraordinary things done. When people do things because they're told to, not because they want to, they don't perform at their best. Thus reliance on external power and control-whether by the authorities or the members-over time diminishes the capacity of individuals and organizations to excel.

This phenomenon was cleverly documented in one experiment involving small workgroups. Employees in some workgroups were allowed to influence decisions about their work (were made powerful, in other words), while those in other workgroups were not (were made powerless). The managers of the powerless groups routinely complained that their employees weren't motivated to work hard. These managers saw their workers as unsuitable for promotion and downplayed their skills and talents, and they evaluated the work output of their employees less favorably than did the managers of powerful workgroups. In fact, the actual output of both groups was roughly equivalent; it was the lack of employee opportunity to exercise influence that caused the managers to see their groups as poor performers.

The opportunity to create a climate where people are involved and important is at the heart of strengthening others. To create this climate, leaders use power in service of others, not in service of their own private interests.

Power in Service of Others

To get a better sense of how it feels to be powerless as well as enabled, try this exercise to clarify your own experiences: Take out a piece of paper and divide it into two columns. Label the left-hand column "Powerless Times" and the right-hand column "Powerful Times." Now think about work- related times when you felt powerless-weak, insignificant, like a pawn in someone else's chess game. Record the actions or situational conditions that contributed to your feelings of powerlessness. Once you've recorded a few examples of powerless times, turn your attention to those times you felt powerful-strong, efficacious, like the creator of your own experience.

Record the actions or conditions that contributed to your feelings of powerfulness.

Representative statements that we've received in response to this task in our workshops are shown in the list that follows. See how these compare to your own experiences:

Powerless Times     Powerful Times

  • I had no input into a hiring decision of someone who was to report directly to me. I didn't even get to speak to the candidate.
  • I was able to make a large financial decision on my, own. I got to write a check for $200,000 without being questioned.
  • I was asked to take on a project for which I didn't have the experience. I was told, "I know you'll be successful."
  • People picked me apart while I was making a presentation, and the champion of the project didn't support me.
  • I was told I couldn't ask questions because I lacked the appropriate educational level.
  • After having received a memo that said, "Cut travel," I made my case about why it was necessary to travel for business reasons; and I was told to go ahead.
  • They treated us like mushrooms. They fed us and kept us in the dark.
  • I interviewed job candidates and then got no feedback on the results.
  • I was five years old, and my dad said, "You'll make a great mechanic one day" He planted the seed. Now I'm an engineer.
  • I worked extremely hard-long hours and late nights-on an urgent project, and then my manager took full credit for it.
  • I wanted to put a new program into effect, but we'd reached the
  • My suggestions, whether good or bad, were either not solicited or-worse-ignored.
  • The project was reassigned without my knowledge or input.
  • I couldn't get answers to my questions.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
"Leadership books are a dime a dozen and most don't last a week let alone years. The Leadership Challenge has lasted because it is research based, it is practical, and it has heart! Believe me&they have hard evidence for what we usually think of as a soft topic. This book especially shines when ordinary folks can take these practices and work them into our lives on a moment-by-moment basis. Both authors are leaders in their own right, which doesn't hurt a bit. Why offer a new revision? Practically speaking, Jim and Barry have piles of new data to share, new real life examples to tell, and updates given the wild and crazy new economy." —Tom Peters, management guru, founder and chairman, Tom Peters Company and author, In Search of Excellence

"Based upon evidence collected from around the world and over decades, The Leadership Challenge provides practical guidance on how to lead and inspiration to make the effort." —Jeffrey Pfeffer, professor, Stanford Business School and author, The Human Equation: Building Profits by Putting People First. "Kouzes and Posner are correct-leadership hasn't changed, but the context in which leaders operate has shifted dramatically. And that makes all the difference, as the two authors who have conducted perhaps the most important research on leadership describe in eloquent language and instructive case studies. If you read their first book, it's time to go back to the classroom and place your knowledge about leadership in a new context. If you didn't read the first edition, reading this book may be the most important thing you do this year to develop yourself as a leader!" —Janelle Barlow, president, TMI, US and co-author, A Complaint Is A Gift, Emotional Value, and Smart Videoconferencing

"Kouzes and Posner have written a book of reaffirmation. They have reaffirmed&with scholarship, stories, and their own ability to express ideas clearly&what it takes to lead. They return again and again to the essential qualities and values that enable one person to influence others&the capacity to reach and touch one another as caring, compassionate human beings." —David Lawrence, MD, chair/CEO, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc.

"Kouzes and Posner give us breadth and depth with real world examples of everyday leadership from everyday people who are meeting the extraordinary challenges of our time. A book of exceptional, real-world insight on what it takes to be a leader in our most complex and challenging times." —Regis McKenna, chairman, The McKenna Group and author, Total Access

"The Leadership Challenge has been my primary leadership text since 1988. It is the blue print for getting others to want to do what we are convinced needs to be done and is required reading for anyone who aspires to be a next-generation leader." — Andy Stanley, founding pastor, North Point Community Church

"In The Leadership Challenge, chairs, deans, and provosts will find inspiration as well as practical suggestions that fit well with the difficult situations with which leaders in the academy struggle." —Ann Lucas, professor of Organization Development, Fairleigh Dickinson University, and author of Strengthening Departmental Leadership and Leading Academic Change

Meet the Author

James M. Kouzes is chairman of the Tom Peters Group/Learning Systems, which makes leadership work through practical, performance-oriented learning programs, including the Leadership Challenge Workshop and Leadership Is Everyone's Business. In 1993 the Wall Street Journal cited him as one of the twelve most requested "nonuniversity executive-education providers" to U.S. companies.

Barry Z. Posner, Ph.D, is dean of the Leavey School of Business, Santa Clara University, and professor of organizational behavior. He has received several outstanding teaching and leadership awards, has published more than eighty research and practitioner-oriented articles, and currently is on the editorial review boards for the Journal of Management Education, the Journal of Management Inquiry, and the Journal of Business Ethics. He also serves on the board of directors for Public Allies-Silicon Valley and for the Center for Excellence in Nonprofits.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

The Leadership Challenge 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
Sihana More than 1 year ago
I bought this book for a management class on leadership and motivation at Penn State. ( I had a book report to do) I thought the book was useful and insightful. It is a reference for anybody on the qualities of a good leader. It isn't just for high powered executives. It is a very good book and although it wasn't something I would have bought on my own, I am glad I did buy it because it is something I will definitely refer to in the future. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to know what it takes to be a good leader, not just in their jobs, but also in life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The college I am attending uses this book in one of its courses. I am so greatful that I read this outstanding guide on leadership. Much more helpful than a step-by-step approach, this book enables each person to assess his/her own strengths and weaknesses in leadership and how to recognize these areas in others to help them succeed. Great for anyone who is currently a manager or who may strive for this role.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best books I have read. The authors manage to define the 'leadership challenge' in a very practical way. They provide us a leadership model that is not based on power. It is based on the tools that leaders use to make people get involved in accomplishing institutional goals (or make extraordinary things happen, as the authors call it). While the language in the book is very easy to understand, arguments are supported by real-life examples of how leaders helped their organizations to overcome crisis situations. Some of those stories are very impresive and inspiring. Kouzes & Posner propose that leaders must recognize that knowledge is distributed in all levels of the organization and, in order to make the organization benefit from that knowlege (talents, ideas etc.), people must be empowered. It is not a matter of making people feel they are part of an organization. It is a matter of making people part of it. The book is written in a very contemporary context and I believe that any person considering a leadership position must read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
KRYSKG More than 1 year ago
I bought this book for a Leadership Conference and while it was very helpful, with great tips and information, I am dissapointed that the paperback version is actually cheaper than the e-book version. Not sure what the draw of purchasing a Nook is when paper books are more inexpensive and you can lend them to whoever you want, as many times as you want.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is easy to read and is an excellent resource for providing examples of what great leaders do.
Abraham Kollison More than 1 year ago
very poor quality. I cannot even download the book on my laptop after paying with my credit card. several commercial kept popping up asking for download to clean my pc before installing the book. I hope to get my money back asap and never to try this mess again