This week we are reading Why Should Anyone Be Led by You?: What It Takes To Be An Authentic Leader, by Robert Goffee and Gareth Jones. There is a website by the same name that has a lot of great information. Goffee is Professor of Organizational Behavior at London Business School. Gareth Jones is Visiting Professor at INSEAD. He was formerly Director of Human Resources for the BBC. The team, experts on leadership and organizational culture, draw from extensive research to reveal how to hone and effectively use one’s unique leadership assets. We thought there was so much great content (and what a great question!) that we devoted a blog post earlier this week to the concept of leadership.
The authors ask difficult questions, including Why Should Anyone be Led by You? Other questions: What is different about you? What makes people want to follow you? We suggest you think about these questions and then write out the answers to them. Read these responses regularly to remind yourself why you are a great leader and why people SHOULD be led by you.
Leadership is about navigating change
The authors emphasize the situational nature of leadership: economies change, employees change, leadership changes. Nothing is fixed or static in a business, so why should leadership be? Not to mention that leaders fail. It’s inevitable. But what do authentic leaders do when a situation comes up? Even if your workforce believed in you before, chances are that they are thinking, “Why should anyone be led by you?”
You could read thousands of leadership books. You could read how Steve Jobs and Richard Branson lead their teams. But reading those books are only ever going to show you how Steve Jobs and Richard Branson lead. It is not going to make you like them, because you are you. The authors argue that leaders don’t become great by aspiring to a list of universal character traits or by trying to emulate another leader. Rather, effective leaders are authentic: they deploy individual strengths to engage followers’ hearts, minds, and souls. They are skillful at consistently being themselves, even as they alter their behaviors to respond effectively in changing contexts. The main advice then is to Be Yourself. Otherwise you are not being authentic. And to lead effectively you must be authentic. But be yourself MORE, and with skill.
Watch this video that talks more about being your authentic self:
Also, they offer a PDF on their website that is worth reading. Take a look here.
Work through some of these questions and see if it doesn’t clarify what makes a great leader. Only you can answer that question. It’s a tough one, it might take some time. But it will be worth it, both for yourself and your team.