by Dr. Kotina Hall
As the new Dean of Faculty at Belhaven Atlanta, I have found it necessary to review critical leadership practices to not only provide a renewed sense of direction, but to excite critical directives that produce sound results to ignite extraordinary possibilities. I have found Kouzes and Posner’s (1995) Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership to be the catalyst to do just that.
Kouzes and Posner introduce Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership which have proven life changing: Inspiring a Shared Vision, Challenging the Process, Encouraging the Heart, Enabling Others to Act, and Modeling the Way. Many have tried to choose the practice they deem most viable to the success of the organization. Consequently, I believe one cannot survive without the other. Each practice is unique in that it serves as a connector to the other and further yields results of trust, integrity, moral aptitude, a “can do” attitude, and empowerment. However, none of which is more important than the other. Rather, each compliments as a necessity to the other for effective leadership to occur.
Effective leadership is a buzz phrase that should not be taken lightly. While everyone has the ability to lead, not everyone approaches the responsibility with purposed commitment. That commitment is usually the difference between being a good leader and being a great leader. What is the differentiator between the two? The deciding factor is understanding that our positions often equip us with breaking lives or changing lives. It is my continued goal to exercise the latter both in and outside of the University.
“The empirical literature in leadership has shown that transformational leadership is where leaders and followers raise one another to higher levels of motivation and morality” (Burns, 1978, p. 20). As leaders, we know it is not always an easy task to exercise each practice. Some days we just will not feel like it. It is during these times that it becomes necessary to do so anyway. Such days prove to be our discipleship test. In doing so, let us model the way of Paul and Silas, and pray anyway. Even in prison, they praised. It is necessary to understand that we are blessed to be a blessing to others.
The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership are cyclic in that they are transferable to academic, personal and professional lives. Therefore, we are afforded countless opportunities to master the practices in order to effortlessly and purposely execute them. I implore each of us to continue to focus on the totality of these practices in efforts to foster life changing growth as leaders and to gain a “level of commitment, engagement, and satisfaction of those that follow.” It will not always be easy, but our walk is not designed to be.