“Model the Way” – Extreme Leadership


One of the requirements of an extreme leader, a great leader, or even a good leader is that one must have followers.  Who are you leading if you have no followers and what must you do to keep them following?  It is difficult to lead if one doesn’t present a Vision worth following or exhibit characteristics of a strong leader others will embrace.  What are others looking for in a leader, what do they expect, what are they willing to give in return and where do we start?  Many questions are posed and not so simple answers are provided.


During the early 2000’s we studied and incorporated the Tenants of Steve Farber’s book on Leadership, The Radical Leap in my experiential based Leadership Training Program.  In addition, I was fortunate to volunteer side-by-side with Steve in support of creating an Extreme Leadership structure for the Orange County, California Board of Education in 2007.    One of the proven models Steve introduced us to is the Five Fundamental Practices of Leadership Steve brought with him for his years of working with Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner. They developed and teach their 5 Foundational Practices as described in their book, The Leadership Challenge:

  1. Model the Way,
  2. Inspire a Shared Vision,
  3. Challenge the Process,
  4. Enable Others to Act, and
  5. Encourage the Heart.


In this post I wish to introduce, “Model The Way” and its critical importance to becoming a successful leader as taught by Kousez and Posner in their template for Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI).  The LPI is an excellent assessment tool of your leadership traits and the model to becoming an extreme and well recognized leader. The key is to recognize the quality elements of leadership and practice, practice, practice.  They coined the acronym, DWYSYWD – Do What You Say You Will Do which requires one not only touts policy, performance and process but we must live the example daily.  This example insists we not only set the example of high ethical standards but demonstrate them in all that you do, every day.  Human nature leads us to look for the faults in others so we don’t feel as bad about our own failings.  Since other are always watching, one slip and your stock as a fair and inspiring leader can erode quickly.  We must lead by example, every day.


Steve Farber, through his Extreme Leadership tenets, offers his own elements to pursue:

  1. Pursue the OS!M – step out on the edge and jump off (bold and scary)
  2. Cultivate Love – learn to love what you do and the people for whom you do it
  3. Generate Energy – walk the talk and create exciting opportunities for others
  4. Inspire Audacity – Create an environment of change and let them run
  5.  Provide Proof – empower, stand back and let them lead, they are your #1 asset


When we Model The Way we are setting the example to be followed by others, we are demonstrating through our actions and commitment that we are engaged and “all in”.  It is our responsibility to create the vision, share the vision, inspire others to commit to implementing the vision and remaining engaged by removing obstacles to those performing the tasks necessary to complete on time and within cost expectations.

 The commitment from followers is both conscious and unconscious.  It takes all of the elements of the environment to inspire and motivate while the distractions are difficult, the tasks are open-ended and the pressure for success is enormous.  The extreme leader must set the example and live the example through actions and expressions commitment and consistency of values.