Back to Top

ASK OCE — August 17, 2006 — Vol. 1, Issue 12

 

Why should anyone be led by you? It’s a question for every leader to consider.

London Business School professors Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones have examined this question in depth in their new book of the same name (Why Should Anyone Be Led by You?, Harvard Business School Press, 2006), and they have concluded that effective leadership depends upon an understanding of three axioms.

Leadership is situational. History is replete with examples of leaders who were appropriate for a given time and place and then were ill-suited to continue when the context change. Winston Churchill’s wartime leadership provides a classic example. Churchill was unquestionably the right person at the right time to guide Britain through its “darkest hour,” as he famously characterized it, but just four years later the voters turned him out even before World War II formally ended. The context had changed.

Leadership is nonhierarchical. Leaders exist at every level, not just at the top of organizations. Organizations that recognize this try to build leadership capability across the board, so that every individual is prepared to lead when the situation demands it.

Leadership is relational. There is no such thing as a leader without followers. Leadership ultimately depends on the creation and maintenance of an ongoing series of relationships. According to Goffee and Jones, the key characteristic that followers seek in leaders is authenticity, which serves the building block of trust. “The simple answer (deceptively simple) is that to be a more effective leader, you must be yourself — more — with skill.”

Read more about the book.

About the Author

Share With Your Colleagues