Credibility Review

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Credibility: How Leaders Gain and Lose It, Why People Demand It (J-B Leadership Challenge: Kouzes/Posner)

Credibility: How Leaders Gain and Lose It, Why People Demand It. James M. Kouzes, Barry Z. Posner. Wiley. 368 pages.

Review by Richard Pachter
I've worked for some interesting characters. Not my current or recent bosses, naturally, who are exemplary people, but in the past, I've dealt with a number of folks who may have been managers — they owned the title and occupied the office — though they clearly weren't leaders.

Their authority came from power and position rather than from their leadership or actions.  Some, I respected, but they didn't necessarily earn it from their work, just their titles, unfortunately.

They were the boss. Their words were one thing but their behavior was something else entirely. It's one thing to tell everyone that this next project is a life-and-death matter, but it's another matter entirely when everyone is still at work past closing time, and the boss is heading out the door. You've seen that movie, too, I'm sure!

Kouzes and Posner's new book, a revision of their  popular earlier edition, presents a wise and honest look at the basic qualities that leaders must possess. In aggregate, they can be described as "credibility."

Credibility, because there's an honesty and authenticity that's required. To be taken seriously, they write, it's insufficient to simply say all the appropriate things; the words and thoughts must align and be put into action on a consistent basis.

Some people might look the part. It's the James Buchanan Effect; he appeared every inch the leader but was ineffectual and is considered to be among the worst presidents ever by historians

Years ago, I worked for a tall woman with broad shoulders who allegedly knew how to manage — but not how to do the job. The team treated her with respect, but it was based more on their good manners than her proficiency. She looked great in meetings, though...

Most of us have an innate sense of what's real, and inauthenticity and lack of commitment are generally pretty obvious — palpable, even.

But if it's all so obvious, what need is there for a book? And why would it benefit from being revised and brought up to date?

Kouzes and Posner conducted a ton of interviews and present various examples and aspects of credibility in a very readable and comprehensible manner.

The numerous anecdotes and case studies are quite relatable, too.

The stories herein do a fine job of providing real-life situations to reflect upon and project one's own situations on, too.

Real leadership requires an arsenal of resources but you can't fake credibility; cracks show up sooner or later. But Kouzes and Posner provide a nice reality check for those whose authenticity might be lacking. The challenge, as always, is in getting them to recognize and act upon it.


  © Template by 2008

Back to TOP