Kouzes and Posner’s Leadership Model

There is a continuous unifying element running through Kouzes and Posner’s leadership theory, including arguments, discussions, and leadership issues. Kouzes and Posner evaluated decades of research to understand the changes in economies, technologies, and workplaces only to find the essential fundamentals – the systems, actions, and attitudes – of leadership remain intact (Bergen, 2011). Kouzes and Posner research on leadership development considers five practices.

  1. Model the way
  2. Inspire a shared vision
  3. Challenge the process
  4. Enable others to act
  5. Encourage the heart

One continuous unifying element that runs through Kouzes and Posner’s leadership theory is the ten commitments within the five practices, which threads Kouzes and Posner’s leadership model and brings the whole scheme to life.

Practice 1: Model the way

  • discover your voice, clarify personal values
  • set example by aligning actions with shared values

Throughout Kouzes and Posner’s leadership theory, Kouzes and Posner thought that for leaders to model the way, they must take time for consideration and think about lessons from admired leaders. Leaders must create alignment around key values and speak about shared values with enthusiasm and confidence (Kouzes & Posner, 2007).

Practice 2: Inspire a shared vision

A true leader can vision the future and clearly paint a picture for the team to comprehend.

  • Envision the future and imagine exhilarating possibilities
  • Enlist others in a common vision by appealing to shared aspirations through:

ü  always listen first

ü  delineate a shared vision statement

ü  put life in the vision

ü  talk from the heart

ü  amplify communication skills

ü  reveal common ground

Practice 3: Challenge the process

  • Search for opportunities by seeking innovative easy to change, grow and improve
  • Experiment and take risks by constantly generating small wins and learning from mistakes through:

ü  Treat every job as an adventure

ü  search for meaningful challenges

ü  generate meaningful challenge for others and give choices

ü  Question the status quo and acknowledge mistakes

ü  Conduct pre and post mortems of every mission

ü  Look externals for ideas and make work fun

Practice 4: Enable others to act

  • Foster collaboration by promoting cooperative goals and building trust
  • Strengthen others by sharing power and discretion through:

ü  questioning, listening

ü  receiving advice from others

ü  stay focused on the gains not losses

ü  offer support

ü  enrich others

ü  generate a learning climate and educate

Practice 5: Encourage the heart

  • Recognize contributions/show appreciation for excellence
  • Celebrate the values and victories/create a strength of community through:

ü  include celebrations

ü  be creative regarding rewards

ü  promote positive expectations

ü  tribute commendable actions

ü  display caring by walking around

ü  be compassionate

ü  encompass fun

ü  set examples

Being a good leader takes immense care, insight, commitment, and get-up-and-go. In the end, it brings out the best of people. In recent years, there have been major problems in the health care and those problems are continually increasing, which has significantly raised the demands of leadership in CNA field. The expectations of CNA leaders are increasing greatly, yet their ability for independent achievements has definitely diminished. This is why Kouzes and Posner’s leadership principles are critical for the healthcare’s future. All effective leaders must make an inner journey to discover inner self. Developing the ability to lead is about leading out of what is already in your soul and invigorating the leader within you (Kouzes & Posner, 2011). Kouzes and Posner’s five leadership principles are as follows: (Souba, 2004).

  1. Recognize the work of leadership entails an inward journey of self-discovery and self-development;
  2. Establish clarity around a set of core values to guide the organization toward goals;
  3. Communicate a comprehensible sense of purpose and vision that inspires widespread commitment to a shared sense of destiny;
  4. Building a culture of excellence and accountability throughout the entire organization; and
  5. Creating a culture that emphasizes the development of leaders and leadership as an organizational capacity.

Leadership in the CNA field has some employees whom are overwhelmed with limited progress in their career, which keeps them from achieving their potential at work. CNA leaders must have the ability to influence individual behavior of their employees. This is because leaders with the inability to help others change their record of accomplishment of poor performance will only drag the business down. A positive knowledge of personal success requires a more knowledgeable model of human behavior that will explain failures and leads to quick, reflective, and sustainable human change (Grenny, 2012).

Leadership Case Study

A Case Study on Leadership Training, by the Support Team

The Problem:

Many other healthcare organizations face major challenges. To provide leadership training for CNA supervisors, one must find the reason for the request. The problem is employee satisfaction scores are not good. The low employee satisfaction scores could be because front line CNA’s are not training employees correctly. Complaints about the front line from the supervisors linked to the final scoring. Riverview Manor employees are constantly tardy, slacking off, not following the rules, and bringing personal conflicts to work that affects everybody. Supervisors believe they lack the skills to deal with these issues.

Looking Deeper:

To look deeper into the problem, the support team at the Riverview Manor decided to conduct interviews of the entire staff, all levels of nursing from the administrator to housekeeping including their managers. The support team discovered most employees were doing an excellent job, even some of the ones with s complaints believed Riverview Manor was an excellent place to work. However, many of the employees believed supervisors were not training new employees properly and addressing issues until the issues were out of control. This form of dealing with issues was not solving the training and personnel issues, only reducing confidence and self-esteem with employees and the employees were not living up to standards. According to Fuimano (2004), “Standards aren’t things you should do, but rather who you are and who you aspire to be” (para. 1).

This is not just a leadership issue but also a training one because this pattern in other areas of the business has shown itself before. Dr. Smith stated, “Leaders often overlook the importance of managing emotions self-management is taking charge of both our emotions and our behavior so that we are not just reactive robots to every emotional stimulus that becomes activated within us” (Smith, 2012). The support team used an activity to self-management, which was a self-assessments designed to encourage reflection and the relationship to the work place.

The team training will focus on enhancing communication, managing emotions, and synchronization. Specific knowledge, skills, and attitudes must be determined prior to team training, then the learning objectives established. Team structure is a development involvement, intended to help individuals examine and take action on leading their behavior and relationships (Tannenbaum & Yukl, 1992). The Riverview Manor believes the training must take place in order to encourage and empower the CNA’s so they may foster excellence in medical care. According to Nickitas (2008), “healthy work environments encourage and empower nurses, and promote respectful and civil behaviors are the keys to unlock excellence in clinical practice and patient safety” (para.1).

Outline for Improvement:

The support team used a process that addressed the needed changes in enhancing communication and managing emotions in multiple ways.  To create accountable staff, all employees must understand the Riverview Manor’s core values, how to apply them, and the behaviors expected. To create this, the support team needs to achieve agreement on changing the training process. Training provided for characteristics and the training managers, including reinforcement on values and skills for those supervised, will reinforce skills of leaders.


At the end of the month, the support team for the Riverview Manor’s leaders and their managers grouped together and learned what leadership role worked best to solve the struggle for training and personnel issues. According to Kempster (2006), “The notion that employed managers aspire to become leaders in the public and private sectors results from an identification with leadership as a recognized and valued part of their role” (p. 16). The support team realizes each individual is different, unique, and training programs need customized, developed, and facilitated according to each need. Communication is imperative to any successful plan. According to McCann (2005), “In any company, communication between managers and employees is a big issue” (para. 1).  Confidence in the employees is just as important as communication. Leaders must instill confidence in the employees and encourage them to contribute.


A one-day coaching course will take place at the end of the training session’s placing the supervisors and lead managers together.  Supervisors and lead managers will get together once a week, talk about issues in implementing, and obtain advice from one another. Accomplishing extraordinary things in any organizations is tough and too continually, feel hopeful and determined, good leaders recognize contributions that individuals make and celebrate accomplishments (Kouzes & Posner, 2011). Supervisors and lead managers will learn to encourage self-confidence to their employees, inspire trust, and lead authentically. According to Goleman (2002), “if you are a resonant leader, you tune in to your own values, priorities, sense of meaning, and goals—and you lead authentically from those, and you do it in a way that you tune in to other people’s sense of values, priority, meaning, and goals (p. 26).


River View Manor employee satisfaction scores went higher and leadership training for CNA supervisors went very well. Complaints about the front line from the supervisors have fallen down considerably. Riverview Manor employees are less tardy, showing enthusiasm, and are following the rules, the lack the skills to deal with these issues has subsided considerably. The supervisors must take time to work with employees as individuals, understand their drive, and assign tasks that match their interest and abilities.

Incorporating what Kouzes and Posner call outsight learners develop an action plan that includes research into best practices other high-performing organizations have used to successfully execute similar opportunities (Kouzes & Posner, 2011). Leaders when stimulating innovative ways of thinking and transforming follower’s beliefs and aspirations can achieve a greater performance.  This is because great leaders see the significance of organizational change, and encompass vision, and has what it takes to make them changes.

An action plan, will call for full effort into choosing, researching, and planning before taking any steps. Then, only take small steps, celebrate the small and big successes, and keep track of steps as they are completed. The action plan will become a blueprint for completing steps and achieving company goals. The action plan is likely to change, as new information is discovered relating to training goals or training options. Even though the team members may get discouraged, they must continue forward working on completing the plan while remembering to take time to celebrate each step as they progress towards reaching company goals.


In conclusion, this paper threaded Kouzes and Posner’s leadership model with additional relevant literature incorporate into the development of the case study of a leadership issue from the Riverview Manor. There are continuous unifying element running through Kouzes and Posner’s leadership theory and decades of research to understand the changes in economies, technologies, and workplace. Kouzes and Posner research and methodology model considers five practices model the way, inspire a shared vision, challenge the process, enable others to act, and encourage the heart and this will enable reflection and specific coaching support and challenge. However, the one continuous unifying element that runs through Kouzes and Posner’s leadership theory is the ten commitments within the five practices, which threads Kouzes and Posner’s leadership model and brings the whole scheme to life.

James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner believe in ten laws of successful leadership and that leadership does not start with innovation, but starts with leaders believing in themselves, building relationships, trusting and knowing their own values, and continuously learning, including behaviors and attitudes cultivated (Bergen, 2011). Looking at leadership through the Kouzes and Posner, (2007) model only suggests, “Leadership is a relationship between those who aspire to lead and those who choose to follow” (Krouzes and Posner, 2007).

Everyone needs a leader and for a leader to transform values into action, visions into action and realities, obstacles into innovations, then leadership is everyone’s business. Leadership is not an affair of the head rather an affair of the heart because exemplary leadership is self-developed because leaders encourage the heart of his or her constituent to carry on by genuinely caring about others and letting them know they are important. An ideal leader shows compassion and a personal relationship with his or her constituents and show kindness and appreciation to inspire constituents to move forward.


Bergen, T. (2011). James Kouzes and Barry Posner’s ‘The Truth about Leadership’. Retrieved February 22, 2012 from http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/leadership-books/post/james-kouzes-and-barry-posners-the-truth-about-leadership/2011/03/07/gIQApWJmjL_blog.html

Fuimano, J. (2004). Let’s target and achieve standards of excellence. Nursing Management, 35(3), 10-11.

Goleman, D. (2002). Leading Resonant Teams. Leader to Leader. John Wiley and Sons, Inc

Grenny, J. (2012). Change anything: The 21st-century approach to performance management and avoiding the willpower trap. Leader to Leader, 2012(63), 26. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/918099898?accountid=8289

Kempster, S., & Cope, J. (2010). Learning to lead in the entrepreneurial context. International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour & Research, 16(1), 5-34. doi:10.1108/13552551011020054

Kouzes, J. M., & Posner, B. Z. (2011). Leadership begins with an inner journey. Leader To Leader, 2011(60), 22-27. doi:10.1002/ltl.464

Kouzes, J. & Posner, B. (2007). The Leadership Challenge. (4th ed). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

McCann, M.  (2005). ENCOURAGING TEAM COMMUNICATION. Embroidery Monogram Business, 12(5), 50.  Retrieved August 31, 2010, from ABI/INFORM Trade & Industry. (Document ID: 835664421).

Nickitas, D. M. (2008). Encouragement and Empowerment: Unlocking the Keys To Excellence. MEDSURG Nursing. pp. 374-390.

Smith, M. Dr. (2012). Week 8 Discussion Forum. Retrieved February 26, 2012 from https://edge.apus.edu/xsl-portal/site/170336/page/ec9b7753-adc3-4985-9682-6a843e83f514

Souba, W. W. (2004). Building Our Future: A Plea for Leadership World J. Surg. Vol. 28, No. 5, May 2004. World Journal Of Surgery, 28(5), 445-450.

Tannenbaum, S. & Yukl, G. (1992). Training and development in work organizations. Annual Review of Psychology, 43: 399-441.


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