Feedback Leadership Learning Qualities Reflection Self awareness

Why should anyone be led by you?

This is a great question to ask yourself. And to verify and receive feedback from others who know you well.

I recently got reminded of this book again.

I was part of an inspiring conversation with a group of senior leaders discussing talent growth inside their organization.

We talked about the mindset to disrupt yourself, ask yourself and others the hard questions, leaving your comfort zone frequently to learn and expect the same from others.

We had a fascinating conversation about how some people can self-reflect, and others will never learn to do so.

Some people take a setback as an opportunity to learn, and others are masters in deflecting the problem to others or circumstances.

It was a conversation about curiosity in leaders.

This a quality that should belong in the top 5 qualities of any leader.

The conversation reminded me of a workshop I had in London with two London Business School professors many years ago.

Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones, authors of the book ‘Why should anyone be led by You,’ explained with a lot of British humor how they stumbled by accident on this book title.

They created a leadership research project where they interviewed many CEOs about their leadership style.

One of the questions was:

Why should anyone be led by you?

They explained how dumbstruck they were that few leaders could answer that question with a certain level of quality.

If I remember well (it’s been a while), one of the most commonly heard answers after some thinking was:

Because I get results.

Result orientation. You won’t find any profile created by a headhunter that does not have some description around result orientation.

I often wonder whether companies hire people that are not result driven.

I know some people are more result-driven than others, but you won’t get very far if you cannot produce results.

Whatever business you’re in.

So why should anyone be led by you?

How will you help people grow in their jobs and be successful? 

What concretely do you do to inspire them to go out of their comfort zone and grow?

How safe do people feel around you to show courage, take risks, make mistakes, and learn?

How much time do you spend with your people to help them grow? Half of your time? More or less?

Is it more important to you who your people are or what they do?

Good leadership is more about being than doing.

Because the being part helps the doing part.

When people feel they can be who they are, they will do what you expect of them.

When people don’t feel they can be who they are, they become less transparent, stop living their values, are less productive, and eventually leave.

You can only answer the question ‘why anyone should be led by you’ by knowing yourself first.

You will never be an effective leader when you don’t know yourself and believe you have it all figured out. 

So start there.

Master yourself. 

Don’t take the feedback you get for face value. Learn from it.

Your turn: Why should anyone be led by you?

Do more of what makes you happy!


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Erikjan Lantink
Business & Leadership Coach

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