The Leadership Challenge – Week 2 – Model the Way

In The Leadership Challenge, the first Practice of Exemplary Leadership is to Model the Way. We have all known leaders who employed a “do as I say, not as I do” approach, and we’ve seen how ineffective and demoralizing such an attitude can be. Leaders who truly inspire and make a difference lead by example. They are who they say they are.

My father, Bill Moyer, tells a story about a man approaching him after he delivered a powerful keynote address and saying to him, “I believe that you believe what you believe.” What an awesome compliment! As leaders, we should want people to believe that we believe what we believe. It means our passion isn’t just there; it means it is flowing from us in a way that is real and genuine.

We’ve become so cynical, always waiting for our leaders to fail with a 24-hour news feed prepared to eat them alive and analyze every aspect of their failure. Rather than exploiting failure, why aren’t we celebrating and honoring those leaders who truly model the way? That’s one of the goals of this blog, to recognize leaders who are making a difference. We launched our Leadership That Makes a Difference series a few weeks ago with a profile about Laurie Loew of GiveRealty who was recently honored with a 2010 Ethics in Business Award.

As part of modeling the way, the authors of The Leadership Challenge identify two commitments:

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

In order to successfully model the way, we must first find our own voice. We must know and understand our values. It is essential that we can clearly articulate what we stand for and what matters most in our lives.

Once we’ve found our voice, we need to put our values into practice every day, every minute, every second. True leaders practice what they preach.

Challenge Questions for Today:

  • How are you modeling the way at home, at work, and in the community?
  • Are you who you say you are? Do you walk the talk?
  • How do your actions align with your values?

Look for another post next Friday where we will explore the second Practice of Exemplary Leadership, Inspire a Shared Vision. Have a tremendous weekend!

Source: Kouzes, J.M. and Posner, B.Z. (2002). The leadership challenge. San Francisco, California: Jossey-Bass.

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