The Leadership Challenge for Church Leaders, Part 1.

A while back, I was working on developing an undergraduate leadership class that I co-teach at the university where I work. In the process, I researched choices for textbooks for the course. This involved contacting publishers, searching bibliographies in refereed journals and poking around the usual places.

I’m telling you this because of what I didn’t discover and how that might help you as a leader.

What I didn’t discover was a brand new work that caught my immediate attention or a new model that necessarily breaks fresh ground. While I love books that advance the study of leadership, and I’ve listed a few of my favorites at the end of the post, there wasn’t a new book that would serve as a great text for the class in my view.

So, in the end, I chose a book with roots that reach back to 1982.

It’s Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner’s classic work, The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations.

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Originally published in 1987, a fifth edition was released in 2012. It has sold over two million copies and been translated into 20 languages. Kouzes and Posner, who in 1982 were both on the faculty at Santa Clara University and who still are leaders in the Leavey School of Business there, undertook a study of what practices were impacting organizations on the level of the individual leader.

Originally, their study began by asking leaders in various industries, “What do you do as a leader when you’re performing at your personal best?” That expanded to thousands of interviews, studies of followers and the subsequent development of five “exemplary” practices of effective leadership.

Clearly, those five practices have stood the test of time. I couldn’t find a work that did a better job of introducing leadership as something that can be learned well.

Since you’re reading leaderhelps.com, you share my interest in becoming a more effective leader. I believe it is through strong leadership that God desires to do much of His work in the world – see David, Jonathan, Moses, Joshua and the rest. I’ve often been in awe of my own pastor as he has connected people to Christ through his abilities, simply, to love Jesus and lead people.

You may be familiar with Kouzes and Posner and The Leadership ChallengeMy purpose for this new post series is to refresh the concepts and make some suggestions concerning how they might be applied to church lay leaders, pastors, ministers and small group leaders in 2015.

With all of the research complete, Kouzes and Posner had concluded that there are 5 practices that effective leaders have in common.

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

If, at first blush, those appear to be very New Testament-esque, they are. In fact, the authors have also written Christian Reflections on The Leadership Challenge, another reason the model is worth a look here. So, in this series I plan to unpack those five key practices and I hope you’ll find something you can use along the way.

Suggested Leadership Books

Kouzes & Posner/Christian Reflections on The Leadership Challenge (J-B Leadership Challenge: Kouzes/Posner)

Ken Blanchard/Leading at a Higher Level, Revised and Expanded Edition: Blanchard on Leadership and Creating High Performing Organizations

Michael Fullan/Leading in a Culture of Change

Patrick Lencioni/The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive: A Leadership Fable

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  1. […] Part 1 of this post series provides the background and context you need to understand my purpose in writing. […]