Why Should Anyone Be Led By You?: HBR Must Reads on Leadership Review #5

Well they shouldn’t unless you authentically inspire them to. That is what Goffee and Jones propose in the their delineation of the four characteristics of leaders who inspire titled Why Should Anyone Be Led By You? Although the authors start out talking about the fear that corporate leaders carry as they wrestle with their own duality of having a position in which they are expected to know it all while all the time knowing that they don’t have all of the answers.

“Be yourselves but with more skill.” Goffee and Jones

What Goffee and jones offer is not a recipe for great leadership but a start to a different way of leading that is more authentic and therefore inspirational. It is very much like a predecessor to authentic leadership, in which leaders are to simply lead with and through their own stories of overcoming and learning experiences. As the authors state, “The four leadership qualities are a necessary first step. Taken together, they tell executives to be more authentic.”

Four Qualities of Inspirational Leaders
  • They selectively show their weakness
  • They rely heavily on intuition to gauge the appropriate timing and course of their actions
  • They manage employees with something that we call tough empathy
  • They reveal their differences

Basically, Goffee and Jones provide the bridging components for leaders to just be themselves, bring their whole selves to work and from there, simply, be real and lead well. What more can we say? We completely agree and only offer strengths as the mechanism to do so. Even in their excerpt on Leadership: A Small History of a Big Topic, they talk of the dangers of leadership within the bureaucracy due to “technical rationality – that is, rationality without morality”. They present the foreboding danger of the bureaucracy to “dehumanize people” in the name of efficiency. They move past traditional models of leadership (e.g., trait, style, context or situational) to a framework that speaks to the underlying characteristics of leaders who positively influence others. In fact it is not really a model at all but some heuristics that people can use in the name of becoming a leader.  The brilliance to the four characteristics that they highlight is that they are unbound by personality, leadership structure, and/or context and is instead are, uniquely informed by each individual leader and therefore sustainable and perpetual in nature.

“No one can just ape another leader. So the challenge facing prospective leaders is for them to be themselves, but with more skill. ” Goffee and Jones

Leadership is not about the bureaucracy nor is it about the title or the situation at hand. Leadership is about walking into your own soul, sharing your humanity, your lessons, your excitement in a way that authentically conjures trust, understanding, passion, commitment, and inspiration.  The illusion of fear that executives cling to is a product of the Corporate Mindset. The fact that those leaders have a fear at all is what makes them perfectly suited for leadership if they could leverage the four qualities from Goffee and Jones. So really we have to flip the popular myths of leadership that Goffee and jones list into whole statements that more effectively speak a more complete model of authentic leadership.

From Myths Leadership To Truths of Leading Well

  • Everyone can be a leader [at what they are designed to be best at].
  • Leaders deliver business results [when they are the right seat on the right bus]
  • People who get to the top are leaders [too, just not more than anyone else]
  • Leaders are great coaches [if that is a component of their leadership strengths]

Truly, it is just that simple.

Want to follow along?

Purchase the HBR's 10 Must Reads On Leadership to follow along our reviews.

Click Here