|If you asked a leader what makes them the most effective leader they could be, what would you want to know? That’s basically the question renowned leadership authors, researchers, and experts Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner began asking leaders around the world more than 30 years ago.
The Student Leadership Challenge has its origins in a research project that Jim and Barry began in 1983. They wanted to know what people did when they were at their "personal best" in leading others. They started with the assumption, however, that they did not have to interview and survey star performers in excellent organizations to discover best practices. They asked thousands of leaders from students to executives in all types of organizations about what they did when they thought they were leading at their very, very best. They assumed that by asking ordinary people to describe extraordinary experiences, they would find patterns of success. They were right.
After some preliminary research, Jim and Barry devised a Personal-Best Leadership survey that began with asking students and young leaders to think about a time when they set their individual standard of excellence as a leader. Where was this experience? It could have been in a classroom, a student club or organization, or a sports team. Perhaps it was in a community service project or a part-time job. Possibly your very best was when you were involved in a religious or spiritual organization or experience, in the scouts, or on a school field trip.
The survey consisted of various open-ended questions such as:
This led them to write their first book, The Leadership Challenge, and develop a quantitative instrument—the Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI)—that would measure the leadership practices they uncovered. In time, Jim and Barry developed the Student Leadership Practices Inventory (Student LPI) and then published The Student Leadership Challenge in 2008. Today, this work is considered the most comprehensive student leadership development program available.