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When I was younger in my career, I thought that leading meant telling people what to do and making decisions. Over time, I have come to understand that leading is more about “doing” than “telling.”

Earlier this year, I was given the opportunity, (thank you Tina Reynolds), of working with a business coach. She proposed we work with a book called, The Leadership Challenge, by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner. This book is an amazing guide to exemplary leadership practices and has changed the way I think about my role as a leader at Uptown Studios and in my community. Outlined below are the five guiding principles described in the book.

1. Model the Way

Leaders create standards of excellence and then set an example for others to follow. They set interim goals so that people can achieve small wins as they work toward larger objectives. They unravel bureaucracy when it impedes action, and they put up signposts when people are unsure of where to go or how to get there.

2. Inspire a Shared Vision

Leaders passionately believe that they can make a difference. They envision the future, creating an ideal and unique image of what the organization can become. Leaders enlist others in their dreams. They breathe life into their visions and get people to see exciting possibilities for the future.

3. Challenge the Process

Leaders search for opportunities to change the status quo. They look for innovative ways to improve the organization. In doing so, they experiment and take risks. And because leaders know that risk taking involves mistakes and failures, they accept the inevitable disappointments as learning opportunities.

4. Enable Others to Act

Leaders foster collaboration and build spirited teams. They actively involve others. Leaders understand that mutual respect is what sustains extraordinary efforts; they strive to create an atmosphere of trust and human dignity. They strengthen others, making each person feel capable and powerful.

5. Encourage the Heart

Accomplishing extraordinary things in organizations is hard work. To keep hope and determination alive, leaders recognize contributions that individuals make. In every winning team, the members need to share in the rewards of their efforts, so leaders celebrate accomplishments. They make people feel like heroes.

Excerpted from TheLeadershipChallenge.com

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