Three Leadership Axioms

In the bestselling book, Why Should Anyone Be Led by You? authors Robert Goffee and Gareth Jones identify three fundamental axioms about leadership. 

  1. What’s required of leaders will always be influenced by the situation. An effective leader observes and understands existing situations, a skill called situation sensing. Great leaders excel at this. They’re in tune with what’s going on beneath the surface, adapting and selecting their skills to form the most effective response. At times, they may choose to conform; in other situations, they’re unafraid to risk being different. They deploy their best personal assets according to context. Not only do they reframe situations; they influence and reshape them to benefit the organization and the people they lead.

  2. Authority alone is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition for exercising leadership and driving performance. Effective leaders exist at all levels, and successful organizations seek to build leadership capability widely.

  3. Leadership is always a social construct created by relationships. You cannot lead without followers. Followers, in turn, want their leaders to express feelings of excitement, meaning and personal significance; they want to be part of something bigger. That’s why we seek authenticity from our leaders. We need to be able to trust.

12 Vital Questions

Developing as a leader isn’t easy; there aren’t any secret recipes. In fact, all the leadership books, theories and volumes of material may confuse people who attempt to expand their leadership skills.

You’re better served by taking time to reflect on the following questions from Why Should Anyone Be Led by You?:

  1. Which personal differences form the basis of your leadership capability?
  2. Which personal values and vision do you hold for those you aspire to lead?
  3. Which personal weaknesses do you reveal to those you lead?
  4. In which ways do you develop authentic relationships with those you lead?
  5. How well are you able to read different contexts?
  6. When influencing others, do you conform enough?
  7. When influencing others, do you differentiate yourself enough?
  8. Do you know when to hold back and when to connect with others on common ground?
  9. How well do you manage social distance?
  10. How well do you express tough empathy, offering people what they need rather than what they want?
  11. How well do you communicate your personal differences, your weaknesses, your values and vision?
  12. Do you consistently express authenticity across different roles, situations and audiences?

What do you think about your own quest for leadership purpose? I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me here and on LinkedIn.

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