Exemplary leadership

An exercise in exemplary leadership

These are five practices and 10 commitments for exemplary leadership, and this is a great exercise for leadership teams to discuss.

Practice 1: Model the way
Leaders stand for something, believe in something, and care about something. They find their voice by clarifying their personal values and then expressing those values in their own unique and authentic style. Leaders also know that they cannot force their views on others. Instead, they work tirelessly to forge consensus around a set of common principles. Leaders must set the example by aligning their personal actions with shared values. Modelling the way is essentially about earning the right and the respect to lead through direct individual involvement and action. People first follow the person, then the plan.

Commitments
1. Find your voice by clarifying your personal values.
2. Set the example by aligning actions with shared values.

Team Reflection
What are the team values you bring to your leadership approach and style?
How well aligned are your leadership actions with the shared values in your congregation/context?

Practice 2: Envision the future
Leaders envision the future by imaging exciting and ennobling possibilities. They dream of what might be, and they passionately believe that they can make a positive difference. They envision the future, creating an ideal and unique image of what the community or organization can become. But visions seen by the leader are insufficient to mobilize and energize. Leaders enlist others in exciting possibilities by appealing to shared aspirations. They breathe life into the ideal and unique images of the future and get others to see how their own dreams can be realized by embracing a common vision.

Commitments
3. Envision the future by imaging exciting and ennobling possibilities.
4. Enlist others in a common vision by appealing to shared aspirations.

Team Reflection
What is your vision for the future of your congregation/context? For the future of faith formation?
How do you enlist others in envisioning the future?

Practice 3: Challenge the process
The work of leaders is change. To them the status quo is unacceptable. Leaders search for opportunities by seeking innovative ways to change, grow, and improve. They seize the initiative to make things happen. And knowing they have no monopoly on good ideas, leaders constantly scan the outside environment for creative ways to do things. Leaders experiment and take risks by constantly generating small wins and by learning from mistakes. And, despite persistent opposition and inevitable setbacks, leaders demonstrate the courage to continue the quest. Exemplary leaders know that they have to be willing to make some personal sacrifices in service of a higher purpose.

Commitments
5. Search for opportunities by seeking innovative ways to change, grow, and improve.
6. Experiment and take risks by constantly generating small wins and learning from mistakes.

Team Reflection
How do you seek out opportunities for innovation? What are the current opportunities for innovation?
How do you lead or nurture the implementation of new, innovative projects?

Practice 4: Enable others to act
Leaders know they cannot do it alone. It takes partners to get extraordinary things done in an organization. So, leaders foster collaboration by promoting cooperative goals and building trust. They develop teams with spirit and cohesion. They promote a sense of reciprocity and a feeling of “we’re all in this together.” Leaders understand that mutual respect is what sustains extraordinary efforts. Leaders strengthen others by sharing power and providing choice, making each person feel competent and confident. They nurture self-esteem and sustain human dignity.

Commitments
7. Foster collaboration by promoting co-operative goals and building trust.
8. Strengthen others by sharing power and discretion.

Team Reflection
What are the ways you enable others to act by fostering collaboration and strengthening others?

Practice 5: Encourage the heart
Getting extraordinary things done in organizations is hard work. To keep hope and determination alive, leaders need to recognize contributions by showing appreciation for individual excellence. Genuine acts of caring uplift spirits and strengthen courage. On every winning team, the members need to share in the rewards of their efforts. So leaders should celebrate the values and the victories by creating a spirit of community. This means expressing pride in the accomplishments of their team and making everyone feel like everyday heroes.

Commitments
9. Recognize contributions by showing appreciation for individual excellence.
10. Celebrate the values and victories by creating a spirit of community.

Team Reflection
How do you recognise the contributions of others?
How do you celebrate accomplishments?

The Leadership Challenge (4th Edition), by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, from Lifelong Faith volume 5.1, Spring 2011