The Director of a mid sized Social Services organization loved Kounze and Posner’s book “The Leadership Challenge”. She told me that her leaders liked the ideas and in many cases thought they were acting on them but she felt that something was missing as her team was not acting on the core practices of the LC:
Model the Way,
Inspire a Shared Vision,
Challenge the Process,
Enable Others to Act,
Encourage the Heart
We set up a day with four experiences and then debriefed each based on the Five Practices. In one exercise participants were asked to lead a horse – not the way you typically do (pulling on a rope) but by looking at your destination instead of your horse (Vision), stepping forward (Model the way), waiting for the horse (enable others), motivating by raising your energy (encourage the heart) and then leading the horse through obstacles, some of which were other participants with their horses (challenge the process).
Everyone found that what had looked simple in the demonstration was a lot more complicated when you were dealing with the reality of trying to remember the steps, adjust them to your horse and deal with the challenge of a new skill.
These were exactly the same reasons the leaders were having trouble applying the concepts of “The Leadership Challenge”. Turning theory into reality was hard but once they started talking about it they came up with a plan to support each other through the transition.
We held a follow up session where participants could do some problem solving on how to apply the Five Practices.but even before that session our client noticed a significant change in how her leaders were applying the Leadership Challenge.
The day with the horses helped them make the mindset shift that was needed.