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Exemplary Leadership Competency

Bennis (2012) identifies four areas of competency shared by top leaders.

  • Management of Attention: “The first leadership competency is the management of attention through a set of intentions or a vision, not in a mystical or religious sense, but in the sense of outcome, goal, or direction” (p. 83).
  • Management of Meaning: “Leaders make ideas tangible and real to others, so they can support them…. The leader’s goal is not mere explanation or clarification, but the creation of meaning…. Effective leaders can communicate ideas through several organizational layers, across great distances, even through the jamming signals of special interest groups and opponents” (p. 84).
  • Management of Trust: “Trust is essential in all organizations. The main determinant of trust is reliability, what I call constancy…. A recent study showed people would much rather follow individuals they can count on, even when they disagree with their viewpoint, than people they agree with but who shift positions frequently” (p. 85).
  • Management of Self: “Leaders know themselves; they know their strengths and nurture them” (p. 86).

Kouzes and Posner (2012)  identify five practices of exemplary leadership:

  • Model the Way: Leaders create standards of excellence and role model how people should be treated and goals pursued.
  • Inspire a Shared Vision: Leaders envision the future and use passion and persuasion to align others to the pursuit of the vision.
  • Challenge the Process: Leaders search for ways to change the status quo.
  • Enable Others to Act: Leaders strengthen and empowers, building collaboration and respect.
  • Encourage the Heart: Leaders recognize others contributions, building a climate of hope and trust among organizational members.


Bennis, W. (2012). Managing people is like herding cats. London,
           UK: Kogan Page.
Kouzes, J. M., & Posner, B. Z. (2012). The leadership challenge: How to make extraordinary things happen in organizations (5th ed.). San Francisco, CA: Wiley.


  • Select any two leadership approaches or theories in the course (e.g., trait, skill, style, situational, LMX, transactional/transformational, servant). Summarize the key information about each of the theories.
  • Utilizing the two leadership approaches or theories, assess how a leader might exercise the four areas of competency noted by Bennis (2012). In other words, how does each theory suggest a leader following that theory (or style or approach) manages attention, meaning, trust, and self? Be sure to assess how your two selected theories may interact with Bennis’ competencies differently.
  • Using the same two leadership approaches or theories, assess how a leader might exercise the five practices of exemplary leadership noted by Kouzes and Posner (2012). In other words, how does each theory address how a leader models the way, inspires a shared vision, challenges the process, enables others to act and encourages the heart?
  • What three (at least) leadership lessons can you synthesize?

Submission Details:

  • Complete your paper in a 4–6-page Microsoft Word document, using APA style.

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