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Five Leadership practices proposed by Kouzes and Posner and what do you understand by “Leadership is a relationship”

In your own words, describe the five exemplary practices proposed by Kouzes and Posner and provide an example of each practice within an organizational context. Use and cite scholarly articles as necessary to support your answer. Also, what is the meaning of the statement, “Leadership is a relationship”?

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Question asked by tshring_malla

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shantamilan profile image

Everyone can lead but how well is the question. You come across a lot of different types of leaders in your life but to become a good leader it is important to understand some basic practices that can be learned over time. These basic practices also known as five exemplary practices as developed by Kouzes and Posner have been explained below.

Model the way:
Have you ever heard people saying ‘Talk the talk and walk the walk?’ A good leadership is exactly as that saying goes. Leaders need to talk well and follow up with action. Leader is a leader because they understand the vision but others may not. Thus it is vital for a leader to show the way to reach that vision for others to follow. Saint Teresa of Calcutta once said, “A life not lived for other is not a life” and she lived her life with the same ideology giving her entire life for the people in the slumps of Calcutta. Even to this day the Missionaries of Charity work across the globe following what Saint Teresa of Calcutta did. This is an example of a leader who modelled the way. She never imposed her value to others but they followed her none the less.

Inspire a Shared Vision
Leaders lead with a vision that they already have in their mind. So leadership is actually the process of guiding people to meet that vision. To guide, the leader has to be able to not only share what his vision is but to inspire them in such a way that they relate to it and make that vision their own. As Simon Sinek once shared, Martin Luther King Jr. was a great leader because he inspired a vision. There were thousands of people who turned up for the demonstration of freedom that day from different states when there were no social media to advertise the venue and date. They did not come because Martin Luther King Jr. would be there. They came because the people believed what he believed in and commonly shared his vision. So the people took up his vision as their own and passed on the information to one another sharing it as their own. (TED (2009)

Challenge the Process
It is difficult to find people who do not know Elon Musk nowadays. We have all heard about groundbreaking innovation in electric car, Tesla, the applicability of Solar city and the Space X program. I have nothing to do with the Space X program and will probably never have but still I follow and read about it. I do this because he has done something that people would have thought impossible and laughed a few years back. Challenging the process, that space program were only for the government research and did not have return in terms of monetary value, he has revolutionized the way rockets have been designed for future space travel and possibly even inter planet habitation. The design of the rockets that can reuse the boosters have significantly decreased the cost of the program and they have even earned from building rockets for the government sectors. In Elon Musk’s own words, “If something is important enough, you do it even if the odds aren’t in your favour.” People would still think it was impossible if he had not challenge the process.

Enable Others to Act
Giving people more recognition, involving them in decision making and added responsibilities makes them feel empowered. They will feel responsible and will generate a feeling of having to prove themselves making them work even harder. As mentioned by Kouzes and Postner, “ When leadership is a relationship, founded on trust and confidence, people take risks, make changes, and keep organizations and movements alive. (Posner, 2003)” I can relate this to myself. In the recent earthquake that struck Nepal, my organization was involved in the response of initial relief distribution. I was handed the responsibility of logistics for the material coming in huge consignments from all over the world. With such a big responsibility at hand, I organized a small group of employees and volunteers for the proper handling of good in the airport and in the boarders with India and then distributing it to my colleagues in 5 different districts. The seer load of work at the time was a challenge but I feel it my duty and so encouraged the already motivated colleagues to complete all the work on time. We were later praised for the work we were able to accomplish.

Encourage the Heart
Human are emotional beings and respond more towards moral and ethics related to the heart. We relate to one another more with the behaviours than any other thing. It is seen in everyday life how true encouragement changes the mind set of people. When a subordinate is encouraged by the leader for the good work they have done it helps release dopamine that generates the feel good feeling. Subordinates respond to this and work toward better output ever at times of difficulty.

Leadership is a relationship in the sense that without followers there cannot be a leader. A good leader is able to maintain and grow relationship with his followers where as a bad leader will do the opposite and soon followers will leave. The relationship to be maintained can be accomplished and improved with the help of the aforementioned practices.


Posner, K. (2003). The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership. In B. P. Jim Kouzes, Leadership Challenge Workbook (First Edition ed., p. 13). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, A Wiley Imprint.

TED (2009, S. 2. (n.d.). Simon Sinek: Start with why - how great leaders inspire action. TEDx Puget Sound Speaker . Retrieved from youtube.com/watch?v=u4ZoJKF_VuA

ujjwalpoudel profile image

According to Kouzes & Posner (2006) "Leadership is the art of mobilizing others to want to struggle for shared aspirations.” They describe the five practices of exemplary leadership that research suggests can be learned

  1. Model the Way
  2. Inspire a Shared Vision
  3. Challenge the Process
  4. Enable Others to Act
  5. Encourage the Heart

1. Model the way
A successful leader is a person, who models the way to its subordinates. The leaders should influence the employees to find a solution to every problem. If leaders always spoon feed the subordinates then I don’t think they will be able to be responsible and accountable towards their work. To accomplish an objective, they should rouse and support to their part for viable execution.

For instance; Mr. Binod Chaudhary who is a standout amongst other pioneer of Chaudhary gathering. He had made an arrangement and techniques for offering merchandise and enterprises like land, hydropower, home apparatus and so forth. He generally urge to his individuals/employees as a result Chaudhary group is renowned for multinational brand in the world.

2. Inspire a shared vision
The leader must always share the vision, with his employees. The leader must be able to inspire about the vision of the company so that they can work jointly. He/she must always combine the personal goal of subordinates with the goals of the company. At the point when leader share all it, individuals will know unmistakably which no any sort of issue for accomplishing objective.

For instance; CEO of Nabil Bank, Mr Anil Keshary Shah, imparted vision to all individuals. For the most part vision is the “Together Ahead” that implies only a single individual and his contribution would not work, but together we can. To spread this vision, he made a strategy, methodologies and offer every one of the individuals strengthen in his thought and design. Subsequently, it makes a decent benefit and acclaimed in each Nepalese society.

3. Challenge the process
The leader must always challenge the process of the work, if the work is not up to mark. If the leaders don’t challenge the process, they will always be in status quo as they perceive that everything is going right and the work will never be effective. Leaders should imagine that they can take in a best way for future.

For instance, discussing the Apple Product like Macbook, iPods, iPhone and so forth then it was not accessible in the market if Steve Jobs had not hunt down opportunities and going for broke and tested.

4. Enable other to act
Leaders must foster collaboration and build team spirits. This ultimately give mutual respect to all the members of the team, and strive to create an atmosphere of trust and human dignity.

For instance, when we came to call for building team spirits then we could not forgot the great personality, Mahatma Gandhi. He had begun to raise his voice for opportunity in country, India. When he had begun then all the Indians were bolstered him battling for flexibility in country and they were succeeding in view of best position of authority of Mahatma Gandhi.

5. Encourage the heart
Accomplishing the works need to be rewarded, achievement of small goals leads to the achievement of the shared vision. The leader should always give credit to one who has done the work so they get motivated to work in a better way. Infrequently a few words are additionally impact to individuals by saying thank you, giving an acknowledge letter, grin is the most ideal route for making cheerful.

For instance, April 25, a quake happened in Nepal with 7.9 sizes which result more than 9000 individuals demise and 25000 individuals were harmed. At that time, numbers of nations enable us by giving food, dress and sum for government, which energized and warmed the core of numerous Nepalese individuals.

Now coming for second part of the question, i.e. to explain the statement called leadership is a relationship. Leaders never get extraordinary things accomplished all by themselves. They mobilize their followers to want to struggle for shared aspirations. They built on listening to people, addressing their concerns and helping them grow creates a unified, focused workplace that is supportive of one another. This means that leadership is a relationship.

For instance; Mr. Lee Kuan Yew who was a standout as the nation’s founding father of Singapore for his three decades tenure ruled. If this is a single story then I do not think it will work so far. But, the support of their followers for nation building finally result on success of the nation, Singapore (Kwang, Ibrahim, Hoong, Lim, Low, Lin, & Chan, 2011). This means that leadership is a relationship.


Kouzes, J. M., & Posner, B. Z. (2006). The leadership challenge (Vol. 3). John Wiley & Sons.

Kwang, H. F., Ibrahim, Z., Hoong, C. M., Lim, L., Low, I., Lin, R., & Chan, R. (2011). Lee Kuan Yew: hard truths to keep Singapore going. The straits times, 18.

susham profile image

A good leader helps his followers turn into leaders in due course of time. Organizational Culture is defined as the way we do things around here (Martin, 2006). And this culture is established by non-other than the leader. An effective leader helps his followers grow by creating such an environment where the followers can express themselves, work freely and have the right attitude to work.

Model the way

A leader is the one who shows the way. If the leader is unclear about what s/he wants to achieve, s/he will start losing followers. A leader should be clear about their values before s/he can influence and inspire others to follow them. Finding your own opinion and setting an example of leadership are good sign of credibility and accomplishment (Posner & Kouzes, 2017). Mr. Kulman Ghising was able to bring smiles in millions of people when he managed to reduce load shedding from a daunting sixteen to eighteen hours a day to almost no load shedding in present context. He set an example for his employees and sub-ordinates.

Inspire a shared vision

Leaders are clear about their vision and can influence their followers in working towards a similar goal. They have an image of what they want to see their organization achieve. They transfer this vision to their employees and co-workers. They gain trust of their employees in making this vision a success. In Japanese companies, people are loyal and stay with them for a long time. The bond between firms and their workers are reinforced by rituals like singing the company song, which is supposed to express “shafu” or the company spirit (Jonathan Head, 2004).

Challenge the process

Change is something that never changes. It is inevitable. An effective leader is able to oversee the required changes in the organization and propose any changes that would be for the benefit of the organization. Mr. Shyam Badan Yadav was frustrated when he saw his village being defamed due to constant news of his villagers being caught as they used to grow marijuana in their fields. To counter this, he provided buffaloes and cows to these villagers and established Kailash Milk Industry which now produces 2000 litres of milk per day (Surya Nepal Asha Social Entrepreneurship Award 2012).

Enable others to act

Leaders inspire others to act. They want people to feel involved in the process and take ownership of their actions. In the organization I am currently involved with, one of the programs, “Nava Udhyamshala” is completely handled by one of my colleagues. She is one of the youngest team members but she has been handed over this responsibility with the belief that she will learn more and it will help her in her growth towards being a leader herself when she takes ownership of the program. The other team members support her in need but she is the main person behind the program.

Encourage the heart

Recognition and rewards are some of the ways to keep the employees motivated. Monetary reward is not sufficient to encourage better performance out of the employees. They have to feel included and recognized for their achievements. The Taj group has created a special thanks and recognition system (STARS) that links customer delight to employee rewards. The front line employees are treated as guest ambassadors which encourages them to work with more dedication for the guests and customer satisfaction (Kruse, 2012).

Leadership is a relationship

When you have a meaningful relationship with another person, you work effectively together. You have a common goal and a consistent purpose. Your efforts are channeled towards the same outcome. Effective leaders recognize the importance of building solid relationships. They spend time focusing their efforts in key areas that will build connections with the people they lead (Posner & Kouzes, 2017). An employee feels very much valued when s/he is constantly inspired and motivated by the leader. Building a relationship helps an employee to convey their feelings and also understand the need of the organization.

Jonathan Head. (2004). Japanese revive company songs. BBC.

Kruse, K. (2012, 10 08). forbes.com. Retrieved from Employee Recognition: 5 Keys from Taj Hotels Resorts: forbes.com/sites/kevinkruse/2012/1...

Martin, M. J. (2006). “That’s the Way We Do Things Around Here”: An Overview of Organizational Culture. Electronic Journal of Academic and Special Librarianship .

Posner, B. Z., & Kouzes, J. M. (2017). The Leadership Challenge: How to Keep Getting Extraordinary Things Done in Organization, 6th edition .

Surya Nepal Asha Social Entrepreneurship Award 2012. (n.d.). Retrieved from asha2012.wordpress.com/2012/08/30/...

dipadhungana profile image

Leadership is the ability of an individual to lead or guide other individuals, groups or the organization as a whole to achieve a common goal. Leadership involves establishing a clear vision, sharing that vision with others, providing knowledge and methods to realize the vision and coordinating and balancing the conflicting interests of the team members. The five practices of exemplary leadership as suggested by research are:

Model the way: A leader should be able to find the voice by clarifying personal values and set examples by aligning action with the shared values. Modelling the way simply means leading by examples and matching behavior to words. In the words of Albert Schweitzer, “Example is not the main thing in influencing others, it is the only thing.” Leaders should be the change they want to create. It is the actions, not the title that makes someone a leader. Leaders need to demonstrate the attitude and competencies they want others to adopt. For example, if a leader in an organization wants his team members to accept their mistakes and rectify them, at first he should be able to admit his own mistake among the team members and discuss with them regarding the rectification. Likewise, if a leader wants everyone in the team to check in by 9 in the morning, he should also be there at 9.

Inspire a shared vision : Leader should be capable of envisioning the future by imagining future possibilities and enlisting others in a common vision by appealing to the shared aspirations. A leader should believe in the ability of team members to make a difference and create picture of the future that people want to be a part of. They can draw the vision out of the people they lead but they are responsible for identifying, clarifying and communicating that vision to everyone in the team. Leaders cannot simply command commitment from the people, they can only inspire. When there is genuine vision, people excel and learn not because they are told to do but they want to. For example I chose to be a part of Teach for Nepal because like others in the movement, I also want to contribute to its vision of “One day all children in Nepal will attain an excellent education.

Challenge the process : Leaders are the supporters and adopters of innovation. They search for opportunities by seeking innovative ways to change, grow and improve. Leaders always challenge the conventional thoughts, best practices and dominant logic because they believe anything can be improved, everything can be reimagined and many things can be eliminated. Leaders love challenges that gives them the opportunities to test their own skills and knowledge and also bring challenges to people (Garity, 2011). Leaders need to challenge the foundation, destination, promise, model, information, organization, culture, talent, complex and themselves depending on the time and situation (Myatt, 2013). They feel safe to experiment, take healthy risks and see mistakes and challenges as a way to learn. For example, medical care was limited only to the hospitals and clinics. Few years back, no one has thought that they could get the similar medical facilities as in hospital at their own home. These days a lot of people are into home care business because they are challenging the process of traditional health care.

Enable others to act : Good leaders always support the decisions made by the people and give freedom to work on their own (Garity, 2011). Instead of making themselves as the power center, exemplary leaders strengthen others by sharing power. They foster collaboration and cooperation. The leaders believe that teamwork, trust and empowerment make people strong and capable that will eventually lead to better performance. To be exemplary, leaders need to acquire the understanding, skills and experience to increase self-determination and develop competence of the team members. The team members will be more focused and in charge of the work if given autonomy. In the organization I am currently working in, everyone knows what is expected out of them but they are never told how they are supposed to act. Each one of us has the freedom to work in the way we think is the best to achieve the targets set for us.

Encourage the heart : This is the soft side of leadership. In order to lead people, we have to care about them. To be a good leader, one should recognize contributions by showing appreciation for individual excellence and celebrate the values and victories by creating a spirit of community. The practices for encouraging the heart includes: setting clear standards, expecting the best, paying attention, personalizing recognition, telling the story, celebrating together and setting the examples (Kouzes & Posner, 1999). Encouraging the heart helps to sustain the team spirit. For example, a simple gesture of appreciating an employee who have performed exceptionally well during certain time period in front of every employees will motivate him to work even better in days to come. Promoting the high performing staff also comes under encouraging the heart. Sometimes the simple words like well done, we are proud of you can do wonders and enhance the performance of the team members.

Leadership is Relationship
Leadership is relationship as it involves dealing with people. It is the relationship between those who aspire to lead and those who choose to follow. It can be one to one or one to many.

There is no leader without followers. The trust and confidence between the leaders and followers is the lifeline of team. Building and maintaining relationship with everyone in the organization at every level is the essence of leadership. A good leader will spend time with his followers and try to build meaningful connections with them so that he can lead the team towards the shared vision. The kind of bond shared between leader and followers affect the performance to a great extent.


Garity, T. C. (2011). Correlation Between Leadership Practices of Transformational Teachers and Administrators of a Large Suburban Newly Established High School. Lincoln Memorial University.

Kouzes, J. M., & Posner, B. (1999). Encouraging the Heart.

Myatt, M. (2013, March 7). 10 Things Every Leader Should Challenge .