Leadership characteristics are extremely relevant as this is the first of three key success factors in change management. They have been extensively researched by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner. Their groundbreaking studies, commenced in 1983 with the driver that they wanted to find out what people did when they were at their “personal best” in leading others – i.e. to identify the characteristics of good leadership.
They devised a leadership characteristics survey consisting of thirty-eight open-ended questions designed to capture “Personal Best” stories of peak leadership experience.
The research was conducted over 15 years with 75,000 people, on a worldwide basis and included middle and senior level managers in private and public sector organizations, community leaders, student leaders, church leaders, government leaders, and hundreds of others in non-managerial positions.
It is interesting to note that figures have remained largely consistent over the full 15 years of research. The results of this research and subsequent analysis of leadership characteristics has led them to the defining of the 5 practices of excellent leadership and which are crucial in change management
In summary they found that despite differences in the circumstances and details of people’s individual stories, their “personal-best” leadership experiences revealed recurring and similar patterns of behavior in their descriptions of the characteristics of good leadership.