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Author enlightens students on the secret to life

Author Jim Kouzes, of ‘The Leadership Challenge’, spoke Tuesday at Mitten Hall.

Best-selling author Jim Kouzes spoke Tuesday at Mitten Hall as students and faculty gathered to learn how to improve their leadership skills.

Kouzes is the coauthor of the fourth installment of The Leadership Challenge , an award-winning book.

The event was held by Student Affairs, in support of the 2008 Leadershape graduates. The graduates are a part of the Leadershape Institute, a program that engages students in leadership challenges and encourages them to use their full potential as leaders.

Kouzes began his speech discussing the benefits of participating in the Leadership Challenge, an interactive development program that provides Temple students with leadership skills through seminars, speaker series and service opportunities. The program is named after Kouzes book.

The program also provides students with academic courses, training experiences and a variety of leadership conferences to improve their skills. By participating in these events, students may work their way up to attending the Leadershape Institute.

With a list of choices from celebrities to their own family members, Kouzes asked students who they felt were the best leaders in their lives.

The majority of students felt their family members were the best leaders in their lives.

“Leadership is everyone’s business,” Kouzes said. “The leaders who have the most influence are the leaders closest to us.”

In his research, Kouzes said, approximately 77 percent of students list relatives, teachers and members of the community as their role models. He emphasized the importance for students to find a leader within themselves.

“There is a leadership drought in this country,” Kouzes said. Referring to the current state of the economy, Kouzes encouraged students to “turn the country around.”

“The need for exemplary leaders has been no greater than it is today,” Kouzes said.

According to the Corporate Leadership Council, 97 percent of organizations report leadership gaps, with 41 percent being acute gaps, Kouzes said.

He asked the audience what qualities they felt made a sufficient leader. Students listed honesty, intelligence and inspiration as major qualities. Over the last 25 years, Kouzes’ research shows the No. 1 quality people list for leadership is honesty, followed by forward-looking, competence and inspiration.

Kouzes made reference to the current presidential election and cited credibility as the key factor in making a proper voting decision.

“Credibility is the founder of leadership. If you don’t believe in the message, you won’t believe in the messenger [and] you won’t believe in the message,” Kouzes said. “The job of a leader is to clear away the fog.”

Throughout his speech, Kouzes cited leaders such as Mahatma Ghandi, Susan B. Anthony and Dr. Martin Luther King as great leaders. He referred to King’s “I Have A Dream Speech,” and he said he just listened to the speech on his iPod.

Arguably one of the most inspirational speeches in history, Kouzes credited King’s speech to inspiring leaders from the past 40 years because of its inclusion of positive hopes, dreams and aspirations.

“If you want to be a leader that attracts people to you, positive attracts, negative repels,” Kouzes said.

The end of his speech was directed toward future graduates.

He said “the best leaders are the best learners,” no matter the amount of degrees they have.

“Get as much experience as you can now,” Kouzes said. “Seek as many opportunities as you can.”

Students listened intently at the end of Kouzes speech, as he promised to share with them “the secret to life.” The final piece of advice he gave students came as a surprise.

“Stay in love.”

Kylee Messner can be reached at kylee.messner@temple.edu .

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