Kouzes and Posner's New Book Teaches Path from Success to Significance

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Authors of award-winning and best-selling book The Leadership Challenge team up to help leaders leave a legacy.

Leaving a legacy is about moving employee motivation from the “have to” to the “want to” level, according to a new book by best-selling leadership authors James Kouzes and Barry Posner, A Leader’s Legacy (Pfeiffer/A Wiley Imprint, $22.95, ISBN 0-7879-8296-2).

“There are many moments each day when we can choose to lead, and many moments each day that we can choose to make a difference. Each of these moments serves up the prospect of contributing to a lasting legacy.” (pg. 149)

Kouzes and Posner’s latest work is one of a number of books written by the internationally recognized leadership experts as part of The Leadership Challenge franchise of products, an enterprise spawned by the pair’s first book, The Leadership Challenge, which sold more than a million copies in 16 different languages.

Unlike their other books, which follow The Leadership Challenge model, A Leader’s Legacy contains 22 short chapters about today’s most critical, and difficult, leadership issues.

“What makes this book different is that it is more personal,” said Kouzes. “It reads more like we are chatting in your backyard than in a boardroom. The book also acknowledges the reality that leadership is hard, that making mistakes is sometimes just as likely as doing things right. This perspective allowed us to realistically discuss the specific challenges that all leaders deal with.”

Divided into four sections -- Significance, Relationships, Aspirations and Courage -- the work is packed with illustrations and stories from the authors’ 60-plus combined years of experience in the field. The book tackles everything from how leaders should strive to be liked, to how failure is always an option, to how, ultimately, the legacy you leave is the life you lead.

“In the book we say things like, ‘Let’s face it, if you’re the leader you’re already dancing naked on the table, so there is no use in pretending you’re wearing clothes.’ It’s this kind of bluntness that will make this book so helpful to people,” said Posner. “We really wanted to wrestle with the tough, ambiguous parts of leadership that can’t be clearly defined.”

The thread that ties the book together is the concept of leaving a legacy, something that forces leaders to consider “what kind of a difference they want to make,” according to the authors.

The book teaches leaders dozens of critical lessons about leadership in today’s world, including:

  •      The importance of stopping, looking and listening in the quest to be forward thinking
  •     The value of courage -- “it’s not about being fearless as much as it is about the ability to control one’s fear”
  •     How to create “Rosa Parks Moments”
  •     The can’t-be-overestimated value of encouragement -- “extraordinary achievements never bloom in barren and unappreciative settings”
  •     How to balance the tightrope between freedom and constraint

“Thinking about a legacy can be extremely energizing and uplifting,” said Posner, “It forces us to think about today’s actions in a larger context. What we really want people to realize is that a quest to leave a lasting legacy is a journey from success to significance.”

Chapters include:

  •      Leaders Serve and Sacrifice
  •     You are The Most Important Leader
  •     No One Likes to Be An Assumption
  •     When You Don’t See Eye to Eye, Seek to Understand
  •     You Can’t Take Trust for Granted
  •     Forward-Looking is a Leadership Prerequisite
  •     Liberate the Leader in Everyone
  •     Leaders are Followers, Too
  •     You Can’t Plan to Be Courageous, but You Can Choose It
  •     There are No Money-Back Guarantees

About the Authors

Kouzes and Posner are the authors of the award-winning and best-selling book, The Leadership Challenge (http://www.leadershipchallenge.com), which has been a Business Week bestseller and led to the creation of an entire franchise of products published by Jossey-Bass and Pfeiffer. Among the most successful of these products is the Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI), a 360-degree questionnaire used to assess leadership behavior,

which is one of the most widely-used leadership assessment instruments in the world. In addition, more than 300 doctoral dissertations and academic research projects have been based on the Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership model that is the foundation of The Leadership Challenge.

Considered the premier leadership experts working today, the two reside with their families in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Kouzes is an Executive Fellow at the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Leavey School of Business at Santa Clara University. A popular seminar and conference speaker, he has been cited by The Wall Street Journal as one of the twelve most requested “non-university executive-education providers” to US companies. He previously served as president, CEO, and chairman of the Tom Peters Company (1988-1999) and founded the Joint Center for Human Services Development at San Jose State University (1972-1980).

Posner is Dean of the Leavey School of Business and Professor of Leadership at Santa Clara University. He has served on several corporate and nonprofit boards and on the faculty of numerous executive educational programs. Posner has authored or co-authored more than 100 articles and sits on the editorial boards of several journals, including Leadership and Organizational Development, Leadership Review and The International Journal of Servant-Leadership.

About Jossey-Bass™

Jossey-Bass publishes books, periodicals, and other media to inform and inspire those interested in developing themselves, their organizations and their communities. Jossey-Bass’ publications feature the work of some of the world’s best-known authors in leadership, business, education, religion and spirituality, parenting, nonprofit, public health and health administration, conflict resolution and relationships. For more information, visit josseybass.com. Jossey-Bass is an imprint of Wiley.

A Leader's Legacy

By Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner

Jossey-Bass/A Wiley Imprint

September 2006; ISBN: 0-7879-8296-2; $22.95/Cloth

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For the latest on what’s happening at Jossey-Bass/Wiley, check out our Web site at http://www.josseybass.com.

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