The Five Practices Make a Difference
The truth is that exemplary leader behavior makes a profoundly positive difference in people’s commitment and performance at work. Those leaders who more frequently use The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership are considerably more effective than their counterparts who use them infrequently.
That is the conclusion we draw after analyzing responses from nearly two million people around the world to the Leadership Prac- tices Inventory (LPI), our 360-degree instrument assessing how frequently leaders engage in The Five Practices.6 In addition to com- pleting the LPI, respondents answer ten demographic questions ranging from their age and gender to their functional field, industry, and organization size.7 They also respond to ten statements about how they feel about their leaders and their workplaces.8
The data show that workplace engagement and commitment are significantly explained by how the leader behaves and not at all by any particular characteristic of the constituents.
Statistical analyses revealed that a leader’s behavior explains the vast majority of constituents’ workplace engagement. A leader’s actions contribute more to such factors as commitment, loyalty, motivation, pride, and productivity than does any other single vari- able.9 Personal and organizational characteristics of constituents, in contrast, explain less than 1 percent of constituents’ engagement in, commitment to, and pride in their workplaces. Workplace engage- ment and commitment are independent of who the constituents are (as related to factors like age, gender, ethnicity, or education) or their
position, job, discipline, industry, or nationality or country of origin. Figure 1.1 illustrates our findings.
In other words, the more you engage in The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership, the more likely you are to have a positive influence on others and on the organization. As Caroline Wang—at one time the highest-ranking Asian female executive at IBM glob- ally—reflected on her experiences with the Five Practices framework, “It is really not about the leader’s personality; it is all about how that individual behaves as a leader.” That’s what all the data add up to: if you want to have a significant impact on people, on organizations, and on communities, you’d be wise to invest in learning the behav- iors that enable you to become the very best leader you can.
Many other scholars have documented how leaders who engage in The Five Practices are more effective than those who don’t. It doesn’t matter whether the context is inside or outside the United