The Intuition Network, A Thinking Allowed Television Underwriter, presents the following transcript from the series Thinking Allowed, Conversations On the Leading Edge of Knowledge and Discovery, with Dr. Jeffrey Mishlove.


JEFFREY MISHLOVE, Ph.D.: Hello and welcome. I'm Jeffrey Mishlove. We live in a time of change, a time when the certainties of yesterday are rapidly becoming the uncertainties of tomorrow. The times require that we move beyond the routines of our workaday lives toward a new vision of the future. The times demand that workers and managers, teachers and students, develop a new leadership quality -- leadership of vision and commitment. Our topic today is "Leadership from Within." With me today is James M. Kouzes, author of The Leadership Challenge: How to Get Extraordinary Things Done in Organizations. Since 1969 he has trained over fifteen thousand executives and professionals. He has served as director of the Executive Development Center of the University of Santa Clara, and is currently president of Tom Peters Group Learning Systems. Welcome, Jim.

JAMES KOUZES: Thank you, Jeffrey. It's a pleasure to be here.

MISHLOVE: It's a pleasure to be with you.

KOUZES: Thank you.

MISHLOVE: You know, you draw an interesting distinction, which seems to be becoming more and more important to people today in the business world and elsewhere -- the difference between being a manager and being a leader. Why don't we begin by defining that?

KOUZES: Sure. If you look at your hands, Jeffrey, we have two hands. The difference between managing and leading is between what you can do with your hands and what you can do with your feet. We came to that realization actually when doing our research, looking it up in the dictionary, looking up the word manage. The word manage has as its root the word manus, which means hand. The word lead has as its root definition the words to go, to travel, and to guide. The difference between leading and managing is the difference between what you do with your hands -- handle things, control things, type letters, use the telephone, write reports -- and what you can do with your feet -- move in particular directions, move in new directions, move left, right, back, forward. The difference between a leader and a manager is the difference between somebody who guides us in new directions towards new horizons and a manager who simply tries to control and contain the way things are.

MISHLOVE: In other words, it seems as if managers -- it almost sounds like manhandle, the way you use the word -- but managers are involved in a steady-state kind of system, maintaining the status quo, seeing that business as usual takes place, that things run smoothly. And leaders are moving us forward.

KOUZES: Absolutely. My favorite illustration of that is a poster that I got from a colleague named Reno Taini, who happens to teach high school, and is involved in teaching high school kids about life and leadership, and who with his wife Randi duBois runs an organization called Tree Top Challenges/Proaction. They're responsible among other things for helping to develop young people in an organization named Operation Raleigh, which was started by Prince Charles. In the poster there is a headline, and in the headline it says, "Adventurers Wanted." I thought, what a perfect description of the kind of people we want as leaders. They're appealing to people between seventeen and twenty-four to take expeditions with them to learn not only that community service -- that sort of Outward Bound, Peace Corps -- but also to learn about leadership development as one of their goals. And that headline is followed by a photograph, and under the photograph it says, "Join the voyage of discovery." And that, I think, is a perfect illustration of the kinds of language that symbolize what leaders are about -- leading, guiding, discovery, challenge, new places.

MISHLOVE: It seems to me as if there might be two forms of leadership -- the really extraordinary leaders, the Martin Luther Kings, the Gandhis, who make massive changes in our way of looking at things; but there's also subtle forms of leadership, I would think, and that might involve anybody -- working in the kitchen, working in a schoolroom, working in business, in which one chooses to view one's work not as a routine, not as a job, but as you said as a discovery.

KOUZES: In the research that we've done on leadership we intentionally avoided the Martin Luther Kings and the John F. Kennedys and the Lee Iacoccas and the other people who are typically mentioned, the Margaret Thatchers -- those folks who if you were to ask, the general public might mention -- and in fact asked people to think about individual experiences that they had had, where they would consider themselves to have done, in their opinion, an exemplary job of leading a group of people. And in that process of thinking about their own experience -- whether that person was a high school teacher or high school principal, a college dean, or someone in the army who wasn't a general but who was a sergeant or a lieutenant, or someone who may just have been a middle manager in an organization -- we asked those people to relate those experiences. And we found something very simple, that everybody has at least one story they can tell. We concluded that there's a leader within everybody, whether that person's role is school, church, community, home, or business.

MISHLOVE: And of course your book describes the commonalities of these leaders, and I find very interesting a remark that you made to me a little earlier about your investigation of Joseph Campbell's work in the hero's journey, and how the commonality amongst leaders, even people in their everyday lives, when you look at the qualities of leadership, they seem very much like the mythical journey of the hero.

KOUZES: Absolutely. I just made this connection the other day, when we were watching the PBS program on Joseph Campbell. It struck me when Campbell was describing the universal myth, the vision quest. It begins with some sense of dissatisfaction, some sense that there's an opportunity out there -- I'm not quite certain what it is, but I feel some internal struggle about that. And then it leads one to set off on some kind of journey to find that. And typically they meet some mentor, or some experience happens where they learn some new lessons, and they become more and more aware of their own inner strength. That typically is the story of the people that we interviewed, and that typically, I think, is the story of the new mythical hero in the world today -- at least one of the new ones, the entrepreneur, the business person who is dissatisfied with large corporations and wants to set off and start up a new venture outside of the mainstream. I think there's a perfect connection between what Campbell is saying about mythology and what we and others are discovering about leadership.

MISHLOVE: Well, leaders are people with vision, people who are able to articulate a vision and enlist other people in sharing that vision, getting other people to want to help out in that vision -- I suppose as opposed to managers who can kind of manipulate the rewards-and-punishment system to force people to comply with stated goals and objectives.

KOUZES: Again, if you take the distinction between leading and managing, and if we take a look at the traditional way we approach the subject, traditionally managers are viewed as people who use rewards and punishments in order to control other people's behavior. So we have incentive systems established in business to offer people rewards, whether it's stock options, or whether it's a salary increase or a promotional opportunity or a wonderful new assignment in a new location, something that will advance the person's career -- we're looking at bonuses at the end of projects. All of those are available to business people, and we tend to rely upon them. There was a book written called The Great Management Principle not too long ago, and the great management principle, the author said, was what gets rewarded gets done. Well, we questioned that notion, because in our research it wasn't the extrinsic rewards that people were valuing, it was something intrinsic, something that came from within, some sense of a dream, some sense of aspiration or a goal, something that for the greater good, common good, was important. They wanted to go for that, not just the extrinsic rewards. And in fact many were rewarded extrinsically, but it wasn't that external reward or the avoidance of punishment that drove them, but something from within, as well as the people that they enlisted.

MISHLOVE: I guess, then, the key to finding that leader within oneself is to find that area where we find ourselves intrinsically rewarded for what we're doing.

KOUZES: Yes. The research is very clear. If you look at the five hundred plus cases that we collected from average folks that would be our next-door neighbors, as well as from a few people that are better known, you would find that the nature of that experience has a great deal in common across many different disciplines, many different professions -- and that is that the nature of the experience as people identified it was challenging, exciting, stimulating, rewarding. Nobody ever said, "I did my very best as a leader when it was boring, dull, and uninteresting." What seems to be the motivational force is some challenge, some difficult circumstance, a problem to solve, a discovery to make, a journey to go on. And that's where it begins. You had mentioned leaders are visionaries; they have a vision. But in fact we found that the process doesn't start with vision, it starts with some sense of dissatisfaction, some sense that the world is not working the way it should, or their business isn't working, or their family, or the church, or the community. And what they're attempting to do first is to struggle with the challenge that's in front of them, and then the vision appears or comes to them over time. I like to refer to it as, "Visions begin as we are driving in the fog." You know there's a mountaintop out there, but you can't quite see it, and it's hidden by the fog and the clouds, but as the sun shines on that fog, it lifts. The more you shine the light -- reflection, concentration -- just letting it be for a while, and sit there and the natural light shines on it, it will become evident to you.

MISHLOVE: It seems as if -- if we can draw on the analogy of the mythical journey of the hero again -- it's the journey into the underworld; it's being willing to face what disturbs you, to look at that darkness squarely and to shine the light on it, rather than to kind of run away.

KOUZES: Absolutely, absolutely. Any person in a leadership role has experienced some crisis in their life, whether it's Martin Luther King, who had to face people who were threatening to him when he was at the seminary, and he felt the urges to attack and fight back, but again by reading Gandhi and understanding that Gandhi had a similar experience in his life and wanted to fight and fight back, his dedication to his nonviolent philosophy was even strengthened and he was self-assured in that process. So directly facing it -- looking inward and dealing with that, or looking outward and having to deal with your enemies, your detractors, the people who don't necessarily agree with the direction, and being able to feel comfortable with yourself.

MISHLOVE: One of the quotes that I enjoyed the most in your book The Leadership Challenge was you said an engineer has his slide rule, a computer professional has his computer, but the tool of a leader is himself or herself.

KOUZES: Thinking again of anyone who has to give from within in order to work with other people -- that's the only instrument that we have. If you're a musician, you at least have some aid in the process. That doesn't make it any less difficult to play; but in fact all the leader has is him- or herself -- skills and abilities, attitudes, feelings, emotions. This is what we have, and how people see us using that has a lot to do with whether or not they'll follow us.

MISHLOVE: Many people have no image of themselves as a leader. Even though when you question them about their personal best they'll have a story of leadership, if you ask them, "Are you a leader?" they may say, "No, not at all, not me."

KOUZES: It's absolutely true that many people, if you ask them about whether they see themselves as leaders, will deny it, but in fact if you ask other people that they've worked with, particularly during these times of personal best, they'll say absolutely, this person demonstrated those qualities. I think it's because we've created this whole other mythology about leadership, and that's perhaps the negative side of the hero mythology -- that we've created the Luke Skywalkers and the Lee Iacoccas of the world. People say, "I can't possibly be like that," without really thinking about times when they have behaved in similar ways, taken on challenges, whether it's with the local community, or whether it's the church or the school. And it angers me a bit, because we end up saying, "Well, you can't develop leaders. We can't be better. We have to wait around until some Messiah arrives and saves us from ourselves." In fact, our belief is that most people have demonstrated these, and we would do well to believe more that we can develop leaders, because if we believed that we would spend more energy to do it, and in fact all of us would be better off if we believed that we could develop ourselves as leaders.

MISHLOVE: There is a delicate balance here. You know, there's the old saying, "Too many cooks spoil the soup," and in many organizations people are expected to lead, but within limits, not too much.

KOUZES: Well, in a recent experience we had, we set out to study four leaders and put them on videotape and to use them as a case example. My colleague Tom Peters, who was the principal investigator in this, found, as he said, "I looked for four leaders and found four thousand." That's the essence of our message. When everybody is leading, when everybody is saying we're not happy with the status quo, we're continuously improving -- we don't look for satisfaction in work anymore. We have a phrase, "We don't go to work; we go to continuously improve. We don't want satisfied customers; we want customers who are delighted with us. We don't want satisfied employees; we want employees who love it around here." With that kind of attitude we're constantly challenging ourselves to do better, and in that sense we are leading. We have a good idea, we make a suggestion. It may challenge the way we are currently doing things, but at least we can share that idea, that vision, that dream, that hope, with others, enlist them in it, get their support, be an example to others, encourage other people, and in that process we're leading.

MISHLOVE: There are many factors, however, in our culture, and particularly in the way organizations are structured, that tend to mitigate against leadership.

KOUZES: Absolutely. In our research we found something very interesting. When we asked superiors, "What do you want from your leaders; when you look up or you look out for leadership, what do you want?" they said, "We want people who are honest, competent, forward looking, and inspiring." And then we asked those same people, "What do you want in a follower?" They said, "We want people who are honest; we want people who are competent; but we want people who also are cooperative and dependable." So we want vision and change and newness and dreams and hopes from leaders, but from followers those same people don't want those things. Those are much lower on the list. What they want are dependability, loyalty, and cooperativeness. There is a tension there. We create organizational systems that tend to get people to submerge their desires to make the world a better place, and we make it possible only for those in charge to be in control of the vision or the strategy of the company. And so you're right; we do create systems, we create procedures, structures, that mitigate against people learning to lead and taking the lead.

MISHLOVE: Well, are you suggesting that this is unhealthy, or that we don't need to do this -- that there's another way?

KOUZES: I'm suggesting that you can do everything perfectly as a leader and still get fired. Our expectations of leaders and followers are in conflict. There's a conflict between loyalty and leadership often, and as organizations we must be constantly vigilant, particularly in difficult times, that we listen a little bit more to people with radically different ideas, because those ideas may in fact be the ones that may help us to improve and grow and develop, both as individuals and as organizations. So we must be vigilant of our tendency to want to have loyal, dependable, cooperative followers, while at the same time saying, "Jeffrey, I really think you should develop your leadership skills. We need more leaders around here." We may not mean it; our actions may demonstrate otherwise.

MISHLOVE: It seems to me also that there is a balance that one has to maintain in any position, between maintaining the status quo, between getting the routine jobs done that need to be done, and at the same time challenging the status quo.

KOUZES: And none of this ever suggests that we don't need people who manage well. Ideally, and this is a clumsy word, but we need both manager-leaders and leader-managers. The ideal world would suggest we need people who are good at both, because there are times when we want to maintain stability. While chaos may be ever present around us, we also need some calm within it, some place for peace and relaxation, some time with our families, some times to personally relax and deal with the stress of the challenges that we're facing -- a shoulder to cry on, somebody who can make sure that the rules of the game are adhered to and people aren't unethical. We need those kinds of systems to create ease of communication, make it possible to get things done in an efficient manner, in a productive way. We need all of that, but we also, and particularly in these chaotic, changing times, need someone who's willing to say, "You know, the way we did it last year is not necessarily the way we ought to be doing it this year or next year or the year after that. Our direction is veering away from the destination we ought to be headed." Or, "The situation has changed; the wind is blowing from a different direction. We need to tack, we need to move." And leadership is required at those times.

MISHLOVE: You know, we often think of leadership with adjectives, like tough-minded leadership, strong leadership. You've suggested in your book that one of the most fundamental qualities of leaders is love. It almost feels a little funny to be dressed here in suits and ties, and talking about love.

KOUZES: Talking about love. There are some wonderful stories, and one of the things that was most intriguing to us was how frequently people would say, "Well, I love what I do." We would kind of dismiss it, and people would say, "Well, I really love these people," and we would dismiss it for exactly what you're saying -- this is a person in a coat and a tie talking about love, and we thought they were using it not literally but metaphorically. And in fact the more we heard it, the more we paid attention to it. I remember reading a quote from Vince Lombardi, of all people, who talked about that love and compassion are what make organizations strong. He said, "I may not like everybody I work with, but I love them." He says, "Love is mental toughness." And here is a football coach of the Green Bay Packers talking about it. And then we hear a story from General John Stanford -- a general in the United States Army, two tours in Vietnam, helicopter pilot, weight lifter, can swim the Bay on the coldest of days. And he says, "The secret to success in life is staying in love." We had to pay attention when people were talking like that. Leadership is not an affair of the head. It's not something you do by thinking about it hard. You do it from the heart, and when your heart is in your business and your business is in your heart, when your heart is with your family or your community or the people who work there, then you get extraordinary things done. When it's a mental exercise, then it doesn't have the compassion. Leadership is about emotion -- living, breathing, bleeding human beings. And when we're with living, breathing, bleeding human beings, love is absolutely required if we're expecting extraordinary results.

MISHLOVE: That's quite a powerful statement. I feel very touched.

KOUZES: It touched us. It's the kind of thing that we didn't expect, but the most unexpected are the most joyous parts of the discovery, in this whole journey with the five hundred people that we interviewed, and the several thousand that we since surveyed.

MISHLOVE: You know, it's interesting, because in studies of leadership it's hard to find a quality, a characteristic, that will predict who will be a good leader, who will be a bad leader. Some people seem to be extraordinary leaders, and yet you might say they're bastards in a way. And yet I suspect it's this quality, this ability to love, that can make even a nasty person into a good leader.

KOUZES: Vince Lombardi, for example -- I believe him, and everybody who was on his football team, when they had a reunion of the Green Bay Packers football team that won three championships and Super Bowls, when they had a reunion and those guys got together -- it was Jerry Kramer, I believe, who wrote in this book about that reunion, and he said that we truly did love each other. Now, these are 250-pound tackles for the Green Bay Packers talking like this, and apparently it was Vince Lombardi's capacity to be tough, to be difficult, sometimes I'm sure obstinate and taciturn and unmoving, unyielding, autocratic, but at the same time he exhibited a caring for his players that other coaches couldn't have come through that toughness.

MISHLOVE: Perhaps another word to use might be passion.

KOUZES: Yes, absolutely -- passion. And what we found in our study is that followers expect that. I often ask people we talk to, "What's the best way to get somebody to smile?" How would you answer that question?

MISHLOVE: To smile.

KOUZES: To smile at them. We often say, "We have to light a fire under these people; we have to ignite -- you know, fire in the belly, that's what's important." In Texas, where I spent some time, they had a saying; they used to say, "You can't light a fire with a wet match." Well, if the person is a wet match, how are you going to get the person to smile? How are you going to light a fire under them? Leaders have to exhibit the passion they feel. That's why it's so important to go through that inner journey, to find what it is at your core that you believe strongly in, and exhibit that to other people. That is infectious, and that infectious enthusiasm, energy, and passion will enlist other people, attract them to you.

MISHLOVE: And my sense is that we all have that leader within us, we all have that passionate spark that can ignite others, but that sometimes we cover it up; sometimes we're a little bit stingy in sharing ourselves.

KOUZES: Well, we suppress it, often. And in our culture, at least in the business culture, it's not appropriate to express it often in business. That's why many people who feel passionately about what they're doing often leave, or only survive in cultures where it's encouraged to be enthusiastic about what you're doing and to try to get other people sold on the idea and have them feel equally with you. But we all remember in school, what are you told to do? You want to jump up and you want to show your enthusiasm, and that's out of place in a quiet classroom environment. We're constantly having people tell us to be quiet. I often say that some managers must have gone to the librarians' school for leadership -- you know, "Shhhhh, people are trying to work around here" -- to keep quiet. Well, no offense to librarians, but yet the message is the wrong message. If it's true that when people do their best they're challenged, excited, enthusiastic, then the last thing as a leader you want to do is not exhibit yourself or get other people to exhibit enthusiasm and passion for what you're about.

MISHLOVE: In other words, it would seem as if the heart of leadership is one's ability to just put oneself out there, to express oneself, to show one's commitment.

KOUZES: Absolutely. Leading by example is still the best way to lead -- if you strongly believe in something, being an example for what you stand for. But also, I don't want to minimize the importance of leaders understanding their constituents, because at the same time you're expressing your own passion, your own energy, your own sense of the unique and distinctive image you want to reach in the future, you also have to understand what other people want and expect.

MISHLOVE: Jim Kouzes, we're out of time now, but it's been such a pleasure sharing your passion for leadership.

KOUZES: It all went very quickly, Jeffrey.

MISHLOVE: Thanks so much for being with me.

KOUZES: You're welcome. Thank you, Jeffrey.


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