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Everyday People, Extraordinary Leadership

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Everyday People, Extraordinary Leadership

How to Make a Difference Regardless of Your Title, Role, or Authority


15 min read
7 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Your corporate title doesn’t make you a great leader, but five value-based practices may do the job.

Editorial Rating



  • Comprehensive
  • Analytical
  • Applicable


Most employees know that people in authority may or may not be good leaders, and often those without formal titles lead the way. James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner believe almost everyone can acquire leadership skills and lead effectively. Drawing on studies and data they have compiled over decades, the authors offer five leadership practices you can follow to make a difference. Being a leader requires you to be honest, dependable, innovative, approachable and respectful. But since you already are all those things – your leadership journey begins on that foundation.


Build exemplary leadership through your ongoing relationships. Follow five leadership practices.

Titles don’t define leaders. You earn your leadership status through your actions and their effect on other people. The people you interact with every day determine whether you are a leader. Good leaders share a common set of values and professional practices, but not every leader has a lofty corporate title.

Leaders practice at every level of an organization, from the executive suite to the customer service desk. People admire people who set a high standard of honesty, vision, competency and enthusiasm. Effective leadership demands credibility; people have to believe in you before they will listen to you. True leadership is within everyone’s grasp. Exceptional leaders, regardless of industry, company or title, share five behaviors that transcend age, gender, and ethnicity.

1. “Model the way” – Back your words with action.

You can’t assume a leadership role until you know what you believe, represent and want to teach. Dynamic leaders demonstrate behaviors they expect others to emulate. The most admired figures in...

About the Authors

James M. Kouzes is a fellow of the Doerr Institute for New Leaders at Rice University. Barry Z. Posner is an endowed professor of leadership and chair of the Management and Entrepreneurship Department at the Leavey School of Business at Santa Clara University.

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