The Leadership Challenge 7th Edition, reviewed

John Mulhall reviews The Leadership Challenge, published by Wiley, see more about the book here.

A neat summation of what it takes to lead teams through change and adversity, and a must read for all leaders and managers.

The Leadership Challenge 7th Edition, reviewed

I have to say, this book review of “Leadership Challenge, the seventh edition” by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner had me engaged and also chuckling in places. My amusement was due to the fact that this book articulates what I have often been saying in my 12 years as a 1st and 2nd line leader, and often delivered onto deaf ears.

I found the book to be well-written and logically structured. They provided considerable background into their research methods, to the point of sounding academic. Their clinical approach came across as honest offering an opportunity to really delve deep into the different leadership areas for a granular understanding. Some of the survey questions did remind me of the annual Employee Relations Index survey my own team members completed back in the day. Its objective was to provide team-level feedback on what they thought of my leadership performance and team culture. I found it extremely useful at the time and was heartened to see a similar approach in the author’s survey questions, whilst researching this book.

The chapter points were backed up with clear use cases and examples that eloquently connected the different chapters to the 5 practice segments. This in turn connected as a body of work to form the best practice playbook for a good leader. This substantial read was well-formed, coherent, and truly insightful for anybody interested in good leadership.

The introduction was an overview orientation for the reader outlining what it takes to be a good leader and moving into more detail around the 5 practices in context to what essentially is a good leadership practice playbook. This summary also provides good orientation for the reader as the deep dive into the points and subpoints around the 5 practices are explored in the following 10 chapters.

The next 10 chapters cover the 5 leadership practice segments and drill down into 2 chapters per segment including the behavioral traits required to fulfill this part of the leadership practice set. A detailed backdrop into the data-driven insights by the authors is noted as you go through the book. Each chapter also offers helpful suggestions for incorporating these key traits into your leadership skillsets and practice habits.

A common point noted in the book is about leaders who make extraordinary things happen. This is a reference to managing teams through change and adversity, which is an essential quality of a good leader. This is also why all managers need to read this book and become informed about what good leadership is. Lack of awareness around this obvious yet overlooked point is common enough given my own prior experience. Well-written books like this provide a risk-free option for managers regardless of their level or industry. It’s a must-read in my view to either confirm knowledge or catch up in this area.

There are many caveats of wisdom for the reader in this book. One I particularly related to was leadership credibility, which mentioned talking the talk versus walking the walk along with following through on promises. I think this nicely connects the real job of a good leader which is a manager of relationships and objectives. If you can’t engender trust in one, you will not achieve the other.

The final chapter is a call to action for everyone to show good leadership as it is everybody’s responsibility. The authors regard it as not an affair of the head, but an affair of the heart. Overall, I would be remiss if I did not mention that this book is a must-read for managers, and also anybody else interested in leadership. It goes into detail and delivers an understanding of how good leadership connects with real leadership in the real world.

John Mulhall @johnmlhll | is a writer with Irish Tech News for over 6 years and also Founder, Writer, and Engineer with Maolte Technical Solutions Limited. You can learn more about John and his new company at

See more stories by John here, and more reviews here.