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Leadership Practices

The idea of leadership and the word “leader” has been used in political and business scholarship to denote both those in formal power positions (i.e., king, head of state, president, CEO), as well as those entrusted with the leadership of organizations, communities, and societies (i.e., boards of governors, citizen leaders, managers). In modern business organizations, the distinction can also be made between those in formal power, who are leaders in title, and those employees and managers at all levels who share and practice the behaviors of leadership.

Kouzes and Posner 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

List and describe five leadership practices that contrast with the list above. Use examples and citations as necessary to support your answer.

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Question asked by tshring_malla

Oldest comments (4)

shantamilan profile image

It has been said that great leaders have the courage to challenge the status quo and have all the best qualities and so we must as well strive to instil these qualities in us. But why is it that when we generally give examples of great leader’s we option to show the positive and good aspects only. Don’t get me wrong. I am not agreeing to the fact that bad leaders are great and that we also should have bad characteristics, but rather leaders are human and as all humans do, they also have their flaws. Would it not be better if we also studied the shortcoming as a human nature of the leader’s? Rob Asghar a contributor in Forbes magazine provides an interesting side to the definition of who the best leaders are. He says, “Most of the modern leadership development industry is based on a myth. It’s a feel-good myth, spread by consultants and academics and “gurus,” about how the best leaders are collaborative, compassionate, empathetic and free of most defects of character. But it’s false. The best human beings are collaborative, compassionate, empathetic and free of most defects of character. But the best leaders usually are not. (Ashgar, 2014)” As such there are practices which are followed by leaders that contrast to the five practices of exemplary leaders as mentioned by Kouzes and Posner. Some of the contrasting practices have been mentioned below.

1. My way is the right way
Some leaders do not care for being an example to others. They are focused on getting the work done and so may choose a different approach. A lot of American presidents have modelled the way as great leaders. President Abraham Lincoln was famous for his truthfulness and ending slavery while president Barrack Obama modelled the way with his drive that nothing was impossible and rightfully said “Yes we can”. The current president, Donald J Trump, however has had a different approach that resonates with ‘my way is the right way’. Whether it is effective in the long run is yet to be seen.

2. Inspiring a Vision
Keeping aside the ethical and emotional aspect, let us take Hitler as an example just for academic learning purpose. He was an influential leader. This may bring in criticism to my discussion but we still cannot deny the fact that he was a leader who changed the world. With disregard for human life and dignity, he inspired a whole country to march to war under his wrong vision. The nationalists did not follow him, but rather was inspired to the vision he was selling.

3. Follow the Process
Some instances require the process to be followed and not challenged. For example a doctor doing a heart surgery cannot challenge the process in the middle of the operation. He would rather be his best if he follows the process. Similarly a pilot should be strict in following the process while on flight. The process are there for a reason and bypassing them can lead to injury or even death.

4. Enable Others to Act under order
Kouzes and Posner mentions, “Leaders understand that the command-and-control techniques of the Industrial revolution no longer apply. (Posner, 2003)”The practice of enabling others to act may not be all true in every leadership. For example a military leader in the middle of a battle field may want his troops to follow his order to the last step. The commander may control through mutually shared nationalist views.

5. Encourage the Heart through benefits.
People react to situation in different ways. Leaders can encourage people through heart but in this day and age people are more money oriented. It would be wrong to generalize but most people work for money and benefits and so do things not because it makes them feel good about themselves but it gets them something in return. For example would a share broker be satisfied with encouragement only? Let us take a labour worker who carries materials for a living. His life and his family are dependent on his daily wage. He will be more encouraged with added benefits instead of encouragement.


Ashgar, R. (2014, November 14). Why Bad People Make The Best Leaders. Forbes .

Posner, K. (2003). The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership. In B. P. Jim Kouzes, Leadership Challenge Workbook (First ed., p. 11). San Francisco : Jossey-Bass, A Wiley Imprint.

ujjwalpoudel profile image

Kouzes and Posner (2006), in their book the leadership challenge, 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

I totally agree with Kouzes and Posner which describe five practices in very effective way. Contrast to five practices of exemplary leadership practices are as follows:

1. Dictatorial leadership
A leader is an individual who can impact individuals around him or her. Hardly any leaders still trust that they ought not to give their experts to their subordinates. He/she makes all the decisions about what, where, when, why, how things are done, and who will do them. They try to settle on every one of the choices exclusively and subordinates are compelled to tail it (Nurmi, 1996). The leaders must demonstrate the way to subordinates so as they take a common choice and possess the choice as well.

2. Enforcing a personal motive
A leader should have the capacity to impact his subordinates towards a common vision. The subordinates will never interrupt towards it because of which the leader will likewise be unsuccessful. Each individual have their own particular motivational factor, so the leaders need to dependably join the individual and expert objectives as to give a superior outcome.

3. Accepting the way as it
The leader should dependably impact their subordinates to adapt up to the progressions so they don’t stay in reverse and move with the quick pace condition (Smircich & Morgan,1982). The leader should acknowledge their responsibility and move on. He/she should also listen followers’, acknowledge their feedback, and accept the change on need making them confident.

4. Discourage power dissemination:
The leader should always give authority to their subordinates so as they feel empowered and accountable towards the work. The leader ought to dependably offer power to their subordinates so as they feel enabled and responsible towards the work. At the point when representatives are given duties, they ought to likewise be given equivalent expert, which influences them to work all the more viably.

5. Inability to recognize contribution:
People who are in authority might not give enough contribution to the subordinates, instead they take all the credit of the success due to which they feel discouraged because every people wants acceptance and recognition.


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

Nurmi, R. (1996). Teamwork and team leadership. Team performance management: An international Journal, 2 (1), 9-13.

Smircich, L., & Morgan, G. (1982). Leadership: The management of meaning. The Journal of applied behavioral science, 18 (3), 257-273.

susham profile image

According to the Oxford Dictionary, leadership is the action of leading a group of people or an organization. They help themselves and others do the right things. They inspire and influence a group of people to set a direction and create something new. Leaders guide their followers towards the right destination in an efficient way.

Leaders are people who do the right thing; managers are people who do things right (Bennis, 2014). In 21st century traits such as intelligence, good looks, height and smartness are not only the factors required becoming a leader but also anyone can culture leadership quality in them (Drucker, 1993). Leadership is a characteristic that can be found in each level of the society. An employee working in the lowest level of the hierarchy in an organization can be a leader as well. Leaders are anywhere and in every function and every organization (Posner & Kouzes, 2017). Below are some of the practices that contrast with Kouzes and Posner.

Model the way

Leaders need to lead by example. They are the ones who shows the way. Titles are granted but you need to earn respect with your behavior (Posner & Kouzes, 2017). In contrary to this practice, some leaders fail to abide by their promises and set standards for others. There have been promises made to the public about turning Nepal into Singapore and Switzerland by Politicians but they have not worked towards this direction once they have gained the power.

Inspire a shared vision

A leader is an influencer. They inspire others toward their vision. Be it a revolution or a movement, it all started as a dream of somebody. And when, that somebody was able to influence others in their dreams, they became reality. Any organization succeeds only when Leaders and followers have the shared vision. A Japanese person identifies himself in industrial terms by his workplace and not by his occupation (shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstre..., n.d.). Contrary to this, if people are unsure about the vision, they cannot work towards a mutual goal and vision of the organization might not be accomplished.

Challenge the process

A leader can differentiate between right and wrong and is always ready to challenge the process. Leaders that is ready for the change and who accept the change. Martin Luther king Jr. is one of the greatest civil rights activist. His protest against racism started when an African American woman was arrested for refusing to surrender her seat to a white passenger which in a series of events led more than two hundred and fifty thousand people gathering at the Lincoln memorial to demand more jobs and freedom for African Americans in 1963 (Encyclopedia Britanica).

Encourage the heart

Leaders not only influence their people towards a shared vision but also support and encourage them in times of need. Leaders are the source of hope to their followers. It is the leader who they look up to when things are not going their way. A leader should not act in such a way so as to discourage the followers. Hitler used his power and domination to rule Germany. People were forced to work for him even if they did not agree with his vision.

Bennis, W. (2014, 08 14). inc.com . Retrieved from inc.com/will-yakowicz/7-leadership...

Drucker, P. (1993). Management: Task, Responsibilities, Practices, 1st Edition , 123.

Encyclopedia Britanica. (n.d.). Retrieved from britannica.com/biography/Martin-Lu...

shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstre.... (n.d.).

Posner, B. Z., & Kouzes, J. M. (2017). The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations, 6th Edition.

dipadhungana profile image

Leadership is social influence through ideas and deeds and the result is change. Kouzes and Posner 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
  3. Enable others to act
  4. Encourage the heart But there is no assurance that each and every leader will follow these practices and be exemplary. These are the qualities of leaders a lot of people admire. There are some leaders who are not liked or admired by the people who show the contrasting leadership practices. (Shrestha, 2017) has outlined the following five practices that contrast with the list above. They are:

1. Model the way with command
Leaders are supposed to model the way by finding their voice and setting an example (Kouzes & Posner, 2003). But there are some leaders who try to lead the team members by giving instructions and commands. They may commit to follow or implement certain models and ask the team members to do the same. But there are very few who will stand by their words. In Nepalese context, most of the political leaders lack credibility because they fail to do what they say. The government officials who advocate about anti-corruption are caught red-handed taking bribe which is a perfect example of how leaders fail to model the way.

2. Inspire a shared vision with formal power leader
Leaders need to inspire a shared vision by envisioning the future and enlisting others in a common vision (Kouzes & Posner, 2003). But most leaders lack in sharing the vision with the team members. The vision is known only to the people in power and title. The employees or team members are instructed to act on certain guidelines to reach to the vision they are not aware of. It is like travelling in a bus where only the driver knows where the bus is heading.

3. Challenge the process over peoples feeling
Good leaders challenge the process by searching for opportunities, experimenting, taking risks and learning from mistakes (Kouzes & Posner, 2003). In doing so, the people and communication should be given more value than the process and tools. But often times in challenging the status quo and being in the race to be in the top, leaders tend to play with the psychological feelings of the team members to get the work done. If a company working manually decided to switch to computerized system, it will invest more time in developing the process than developing the competencies of the people and still expect them to adapt to the change easily. This act gives mental pressure to the employees as failure to get acquainted with the new system may prove them incompetent that may lead to leadership failure.

4. Enable others to act with fear
Exemplary leaders enable others to act by fostering collaboration and strengthening the team members (Kouzes & Posner, 2003). On the other hand there are some leaders who make people accomplish a certain task by means of threat and fear. They think as a leader they have the right to order the team members to do what they want. For example, if an employee is not willing to do a task assigned to him because he did not understand the significance of the task. Instead of giving him an explanation the manager might just make him do it by threatening to kick him out of the job if he fails to deliver what is desired of him.

5. Encourage the heart with public shaming
Good leaders encourage the heart by recognizing contribution and celebrating values and victories (Kouzes & Posner, 2003). On the contrary, there are leaders who find it very difficult to appreciate others but never leave a chance to demotivate them by pinpointing the minor mistake they have once committed every time. I have seen a manager who always make fun of his assistant in front of other employees for not being able to speak English fluently but never appreciates the effort she is putting in learning English.


Kouzes, J. M., & Posner, B. Z. (2003). The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership. A Wiley Imprint.

Shrestha, Y. M. (2017, September 27). Leadership Practices that Contrast with the 5 Exemplary Practices Defined by Kouzes and Posner. Retrieved from Medium: medium.com