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Leadership Philosophy
Defining leadership can be a difficult task because leadership means different things to
different people. Leaders are made, not born (Komives, Lucas & McMahon, 2013). Leaders are
those that build strong relationships, create a vision based on their values, and set an example for
others. My personal philosophy is that leadership is an influenced relationship between the leader
and their followers who attempt to create change based on shared beliefs. Leaders guide others to
take action and encourage them to stand up for what they believe in. They can take criticism to
improve themselves, but also give it when it is needed.
I am a firm believer in The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership - Model the Way,
Inspire a Shared Vision, Challenge the Process, Enable Others to Act, and Encourage the Heart.
I believe this model includes each vital component of being an effective leader. They have stood
the test of time, and they are available to anyone, in any organization or situation, who accepts
the leadership challenge (Kouzes & Posner, 2003).
The Leadership Challenge Model:
The Five Practices and Ten Commitments of Exemplary Leadership
Model the Way
Inspire a Shared Vision

Challenge the Process

Enable Others to Act

Encourage the Heart

1. Clarify values by finding your voice and affirming shared

2. Set the example by aligning actions and shared values.
3. Envision the future by imaging exciting and ennobling
4. Enlist others in a common vision by appealing to shared
5. Search for opportunities by seizing the initiative and by
looking outward for innovative ways to improve.
6. Experiment and take risks by constantly generating small wins
and learning from experience.
7. Foster collaboration by building trust and facilitating
8. Strengthen others by increasing self-determination and
developing competence.
9. Recognize contributions by showing appreciation for

individual excellence.
10. Celebrate the values and victories by creating a spirit of
Source: Kouzes & Posner, 2003
Model the Way

Credibility is the foundation of leadership (Kouzes & Posner, 2003).

If people do not have faith in the messenger, they wont believe in the message.

Leaders find their voice and set an example for others to want to follow.

Begins with the clarification of personal values and involves building and affirming
shared values that all can embrace (Kouzes & Posner, 2003).

Inspire a Shared Vision

Leaders envision the future and enlist others in a common vision (Kouzes & Posner,

There is strength in numbers, the more that commit to a vision, the more the vision will
inspire others to believe.

Leaders uplift peoples spirits with an ennobling perspective about why they should strive
to be better than they are today (Kouzes & Posner, 2003).

Challenge the Process

Leaders tend to venture into the unknown. After all, leaders do not achieve their personal
best by keeping things the same.

Leaders search for opportunities and by experimenting, taking risks, and learning from
mistakes (Kouzes & Posner, 2003).

Enable Others to Act

Leaders foster collaboration and strengthening others (Kouzes & Posner, 2003).

Collaboration is the master skill that enables teams, partnerships, and other alliances to
function effectively (Kouzes & Posner, 2003).

Encouraging the Heart

Leaders recognize contributions and celebrate values and victories (Kouzes & Posner,

Genuine acts of caring uplift an individuals spirits to continue moving forward.

Leaders stimulate, rekindle, and focus peoples energies (Kouzes & Posner, 2003).

Encouraging the Heart is how leaders visibly and behaviorally link rewards with
performance and behavior with cherished values (Kouzes & Posner, 2003).
Komives, Lucas, and McMahons Exploring Leadership provides fives units of

leadership Leadership for Changing World, Leadership Development to the Agricultural

Community, Exploring Your Potential for Leadership, Context for the Practice of Leadership,
and Making a Difference with Leadership. With the assistance of the five leadership practices, I
can relate personal leadership experiences to the units of leadership.
Unit 1 Leadership for a Changing World
Modeling the Way Being elected to the 2011-2012 Virginia FFA State Officer Team was
an experience like no other. One of the biggest lessons I learned was the concept of leading by
example of authentic leadership. These are leaders that know who they are, what they believe in
and take action upon their values while transparently interacting with others (Komives, Lucas &
McMahon, 2013). Authentic leaders do not fake their leadership (Komives, Lucas & McMahon,
2013). Throughout my FFA career, I remember looking up to those state officers, who came
before, me for guidance and advice. Therefore, I dreamed of being that example those officers
were for me. A state officer should walk the walk they talk. FFA members pay attention to every
move a state office makes, often with a desire of doing the same. They model the way for the
future generations of the Association and national organization.
Unit 2 Leader Development for the Agriculture Community

Enable Others to Act A theme within the readings in Unit 2 was relationship building
across the agricultural industry developing leadership abilities, which leads to enabling others to
act. A participant from the Kaufman article stated, Theres a lot of problems out there and the
only way youre going to solve them is to bring people together and have them solve them
together (Kaufman, 2010). I have been a member of many teams. In the Elements of Team
Leadership course we were challenged with developing a service-learning project, in which we
would event enable others to act. In this case, we worked closely with the RAFT Crisis Hotline,
enabling others to be aware of the resource and take action to inform those in need of help or just
someone to talk to. While this project is not directly related to the agricultural community it can
certainly compare. The individuals within the agriculture industry that I have met have enabled
me to act. Another Kaufman study participant stated, We need a voice in government thats
extremely strong. Cause it seems like we are the ones that are getting taken advantage of
(Kaufman, 2010). Along with political advocacy, includes being able to work together as a team
and inform the public about the importance of agriculture. One person cant change the world
alone. Enabling others to act with us will give the agriculture a stronger community for the issues
facing the future of the industry.
Unit 3 Exploring Your Potential for Leadership
Encourage the Heart Leaders expect the best of people and create self-fulfilling
prophecies about how ordinary people can produce extraordinary results (Kouzes & Posner,
2003). These extra ordinary results come from an individuals strengths. I have taken the Strenths
Finder assessment two times. Between those two assessments, my strengths have changed
drastically, keeping only one of the original top five strengths. My strengths are
individualization, achiever, learner, restorative, and includer. These strengths are evident in the

leadership positions that I hold whether that be as the Collegiate FFA president, College of
Agricultural and Life Sciences ambassador, or as a Virginia FFA Association state staff member.
In leadership development, confidence and motivation increase when strengths and talents are
affirmed (Komives, Lucas & McMahon, 2013). Individuals focus on what grows and thrive off
of being rewarded for what they do well. Potential for leadership development also involves
being aware of your weaknesses and finding others to complement those weaknesses as their
Unit 4 Context for the Practice of Leadership
Inspiring a Shared Vision As a state FFA officer, it was our job to promote and
influence the values and ethics of the National FFA Organization. Discussing values of the
organization is one thing, but it is another to inspire those values and visions. We were asked to
create a team philosophy statement that provided a foundation for our year of service. The vision
that the organization embraces challenges both the leader and membership to do their very best
to move toward the mission for which the organization exists (Komives, Lucas & McMahon,
2013). Additionally, we created a list of goals that we wanted to accomplish as a team throughout
the year, which envisioned our future as an Association. A critical aspect of the success or failure
of any organization will be how its purpose comes to life in its vision and actions (Komives,
Lucas & McMahon, 2013). For an effective future, it must motivate and inspire, be a stretch, be
clear and concrete, be achievable, reflect high values, and be simple (Komives, Lucas &
McMahon, 2013).
Unit 5 Making a Difference with Leadership
Challenge the Process Leadership is inherently about people working together toward
change (Komives, Lucas & McMahon, 2013). When I think of groups challenging a process, I

think of Dodge Ram Trucks and the National FFA Organization. These organizations ventured
out into the unknown, not knowing what would come from their So God Made a Farmer
Superbowl commercial. They also established a sense of urgency. In order for sense of urgency
to take hold leaders must engage both the mind and heart, which the commercial did just that.
The commercial immediately caused controversy and brought a sense of awareness to the
importance of the agricultural industry around the world. The deeper the change, the more it is
infused into the daily lives of those affected by it (Komives, Lucas & McMahon, 2013). From
the world in which we live, there is much that needs to be changed. Leaders are constantly
searching for opportunities to innovate, grow, and improve. This commercial boosted the need
for advocating in this industry and the beginning for others to begin challenging the process. The
joining together of these organizations provided an example of what happens when the process is
Leaders have a desire to make something better than it is today and change the norms.
They strive to better themselves and others by possessing the five practices of exemplary
leadership. Being an effective leader requires a vision based on values, influential relationships,
setting an example, encouraging others, and a desire to venture into the unknown. After all, the
legacy a leader leaves is by the life they led and influence they leave on others.

Kaufman et al. (2010) article: Leadership program planning: Assessing the needs and interests of
agricultural community
Komives, S.R., Lucas, N., McMahon, T.R. (2013). Exploring leadership: for college students
who want to make a difference. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Print.
Kouzes, J.M., Posner, B. Z. (2003). The five practices of exemplary leadership. Pfeiffer.
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