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Learning Leadership - Book summary

Exemplary leaders are a vital asset in any organization—they increase engagement and commitment, improve performance and inspire a sense of meaning and self-worth among people. In Learning Leadership, James Kouzes & Barry Posner build up on the ideas and tips presented in The Leadership Challenge, presenting a self-coaching guide that can help people take charge of their own leadership development and become the best leaders they can be.These are most beneficial for emerging leaders, as well as coaches, trainers, and other human resource professionals or leadership developers. Our free Learning Leadership summary outlines some of the highlights from the book.

Learning Leadership: An Overview

Based on 30 years of leadership research from over 70 countries, Kouzes and Posner found that everyone has the capacity to lead. Yet, there’s a growing global concern of a shortage of great leaders, due to changing demographics, lack of training for new/budding leaders, and the wrong mind-set that leadership is only for people with special talents or abilities. To solve the leadership shortage, we must unleash the leadership potential that’s already present in people.

Leadership Foundations

There are specific practices that are universally associated with exemplary leadership. The challenge is to use them frequently, so you can get more confident about them. We’ll now take a brief look at the 3 leadership fundamentals, with the associated self-coaching tips. You can get more details from our full 15-page summary.

Learning Leadership Book Summary_leadership foundations

1. Everyone can Lead

You don’t need special traits or genes to lead, and leaders can be found in all walks of life. In the book, the authors explain the 5 key myths that hold people back, including The Talent Myth, The Position Myth, The Strengths Myth, The Self-Reliance Myth, and the “It-all-comes-naturally” Myth.  Since all of us can lead, the question to ask is: how can we become better leaders? Our full Learning Leadership summary gives a detailed overview of these 5 key myths. Learning Leadership Book Summary_self-coaching1

2. Leaders make a Difference

The best leaders can bring out 2-3 times the talent in others, compared with the worst leaders. Leaders’ behaviors affect others’ level of commitment and engagement, from the classroom to baseball fields. Bad leaders have the opposite effect. Although leaders’ personalities and leadership context may vary, the process of leadership and expected leadership behaviors are the same everywhere. Our 15- page summary provides more more facts, figures and examples on this leadership fundamental.

3. It’s about How Frequently You Lead

Everyone has some personal experience(s) when they felt they were at their record-best leadership performance (their “Personal-Best Leadership Experiences”). By studying leaders at their best, the authors found 5 key Leadership Practices: Model the way, Inspire a shared vision, Challenge the process, Enable others to act, and Encourage the heart. By measuring the leadership behaviors associated with these 5 practices, the authors found that almost no one scores zero across all 5 areas, In short, you’re already leading—you just need to do it more frequently.Learning Leadership Book Summary_self-coaching2

Developing the 5 Fundamentals of Leadership

So far, we’ve established the 3 foundations of leadership. We’ll now briefly outline the 5 Leadership Fundamentals that any leader must learn to cultivate. You can get the full details from our complete 15-page Learning Leadership summary, including specific self-coaching tips like those in the previous segment.

Learning Leadership Book Summary_5 leadership fundamentals

1. Believe you Can

Leadership starts with (a) believing in yourself (b) embracing learning as the master skill, and (c) leading from inside-out.

2. Aspire to Excel

To be a leader, you must have followers. This requires that you (a) know what matters to you, (b) be forward-looking, and (c) help/serve others.

3. Challenge Yourself

To be the best leader you can be, you must (a) find your training ground, (b) experiment, (c) be resilient and (d) have courage.

4. Engage Support

Great leaders learn, grow and achieve with the support of others. Learn how to (a) not do everything yourself, (b) get connected, and (c) seek feedback.

5. Practice Deliberately

Like great sportsmen, great leaders need to practice  and hone their craft. To do so, (a) make the time and effort, (b) shape your context and (c) cultivate a daily learning habit.

Getting the Most from Learning Leadership

Ready to take charge of your leadership development and learn more about each of these 5 fundamentals in more detail? Get specific tips and self-coaching actions to start start developing your leadership fundamentals with our complete book summary bundle which includes an infographic, a 15-page text summary, and a 27-minute audio summary.Learning Leadership summary - book summary bundleYou can purchase the book here or visit for more details and resources.

Do also check out The Leadership Challenge summary for additional tips that you can use to coach yourself and hone your leadership skills.

About the Authors of Learning Leadership

Learning Leadership: The Five Fundamentals of Becoming an Exemplary Leader is written by James Kouzes and Barry Posner. They are authors and speakers who have been working together for more than 30 years. They are best known for their work on leadership, and have won numerous awards including the American Society for Training and Development’s highest award for their Distinguished Contribution to Workplace Learning and Performance. Kouzes and Posner have co-authored more than a dozen books, and developed the highly-acclaimed Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI), a 360-degree questionnaire for assessing leadership behavior and The Student LPI. They frequently speak and conduct leadership development seminars for organizations worldwide.

Learning Leadership Quotes

“The proof that you know leadership is in the doing of it.”

“Leadership makes a significant difference in levels of engagement and commitment and is perhaps the most important asset in every organization.”

“Leadership…is not a talent but an observable, learnable set of skills and abilities.”

“Leadership is much more about what you do than it is about where you are sitting.”

“Leadership is a team sport and not a solo performance.”

“Leadership makes a difference. The difference can be negative or positive… The choice is yours.”

“No one is going to follow you for very long if you aren’t willing to follow yourself.”

“The best place to start creating the future is by being more mindful in the present.”

Click here to download Learning Leadership book summary and infographic

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