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Leadership guru sends parting advice to Trine MSOL class

With her Master of Science in Organizational Leadership students, the first to graduate from Trine University’s program, nearing the end of their capstone course, TrineOnline adjunct faculty member Anne Johnson wanted to give them a special send-off.

That send-off came from one of the top leadership educators in the United States.

Three days before their class ended, the students received a special congratulations message from Jim Kouzes, co-author with Barry Posner of The Leadership Challenge and Fellow of the Doerr Institute for New Leaders at Rice University.

In his message, Kouzes encouraged the soon-to-be-graduates to remember that leadership success does not occur in a vacuum.

“All too often when people talk about leadership they describe it as a solo performance. Nothing is further from the truth,” he wrote. “Grand dreams never become significant realities through the actions of one single person. Leadership is relationship. It requires solid trust and strong relationships. It requires collective competence and group collaboration. Only when we build the kind of relationship that allows people to do their best, will we succeed as leaders.”

“I think what came across in his message was the humility of such a world-renowned leader,” Johnson said. “Jim and Barry have always exhibited a humble attitude. They are wonderful examples of the type of leadership we should aspire to.”

Johnson first became acquainted with Kouzes when she took The Leadership Challenge as a course in her own master’s program. Later, she participated in facilitator training for The Leadership Challenge to conduct workshop training for frontline leadership.

In 2016, she was part of a planning committee that brought Kouzes to The Ohio State University as keynote speaker for its inaugural Leadership Summit. Kouzes and Posner were also instrumental in Johnson’s grandson being interviewed for The Student Leadership Challenge.

“He had told me, ‘If there is anything I can do for your class let me know,’ ” Johnson said.

Cited as one of the 12 best executive educators in the United States by the Wall Street Journal, Kouzes has co-authored more than 30 leadership publications with Posner, including Learning Leadership, The Truth About Leadership, A Leader's Legacy, Credibility: How Leaders Gain and Lose It, Why People Demand It, Encouraging the Heart, The Leadership Challenge Workbook and the Encouraging the Heart Workbook.

The pair also developed the highly acclaimed Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI), a 360-degree leadership assessment questionnaire that is one of the top-selling off-the-shelf leadership assessment instruments in the world.

Kouzes was named one of the top 30 Global Gurus in Leadership in 2017 and is the 2010 recipient of the Thought Leadership Award from the Instructional Systems Association. He was named to HR Magazine’s Most Influential International Thinkers four years in a row, and was presented with the Golden Gavel in 2006 by Toastmasters International.

Johnson said getting practical advice from such a high-profile leader was a perfect send-off for her students. Earlier in the semester, one student had even named The Leadership Challenge as a leadership book he would like to read, later receiving a copy of the book from TrineOnline.

In his response to Johnson upon receiving the book, he stated, “Thank you for sharing such an inspiring letter from an extraordinary man. I have read The Leadership Challenge from cover to cover and encourage others to consider adding this particular volume to their library.”

Another student responded, “That was a powerful letter and lesson.”

“It meant a lot to them to see leadership come to life in such a powerful way,” she said.