Ever wonder what makes people succeed in their roles? Here’s the answer to what very well could be a million-dollar question: relationships—not quantity, but quality, and particularly with their direct reports. Just as the best companies are concerned about the quality of their relationships with their customers, the best leaders seek feedback—both positive and negative—about how they’re doing in their relationships with their many constituents. Research shows that by collecting feedback from a variety of perspectives, especially peers and direct reports, individuals can understand how they’re seen from all points of view. They can then use this knowledge to assess the extent to which they actually exhibit exemplary leadership behaviors.
Evidence clearly suggests that leadership is everyone’s business and that what people do matters. No matter their title, ethnicity, gender, age, height, and so on, as individuals engage more in The Five Practices o Exemplary Leadership®, they:
- Create higher-performing teams
- Generate increased sales and customer satisfaction levels
- Foster renewed loyalty and greater organizational commitment
- Enhance motivation and the willingness to work hard
- More successfully represent their units to upper management
- Facilitate high patient-satisfaction scores and more effectively meet family member needs
- Promote high degrees of involvement in schools
- Enlarge the size of their religious congregations
- Increase fundraising results and expand gift-giving levels
- Extend the range of their agency’s services
- Reduce absenteeism, turnover, and dropout rates
- Positively influence recruitment rates
Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner’s extensive research—which began in 1981 and led to the development of The Five Practices model and the LPI®: Leadership Practices Inventory®--shows that people working with individuals who use The Five Practices are significantly more satisfied with those leaders’ actions and strategies. They also feel more committed, excited, energized, influential, and powerful. In other words, the more people engage in The Five Practices, the more they’re likely to have a positive influence on others. There’s no hard evidence to support the assertion that leadership is imprinted in the DNA of only some individuals. Leadership is not a gene, and it’s not a trait—it’s a set of skills, and anyone can learn new skills. It can be learned through active experimentation, observation of others, study in the classroom or reading books, reflection on one’s own and others’ experiences, and practice (therein lies the key!).