Be Yourself – Everyone Else is Taken

In their book “Why Should Anyone Be Led By You?” Robert Goffee and Gareth Jones point out that in spite of the huge demand for more effective leaders, they remain in short supply.

This is partly due to the fact that organisations across all sectors still encourage people to conform or become inauthentic role players, rather than being clear about who they are and what they stand for. This of course leads to cynical, de-motivated and disengaged followers. Another reason for the lack of good leadership is the limited knowledge across the board about what leadership is and how it can be developed. I have written here before about how leadership is a dynamic relationship that is situational. So, something that works for one leader in one context won’t work for another leader or in another context. Therefore, focusing on the characteristics of leaders or attempting to imitate great leaders just doesn’t work.  As Oscar Wilde says, “be yourself everyone else is taken!”

Robert Goffee and Gareth Jones argue that those people who aspire to be effective leaders don’t need to be fully self-aware but they do need to know enough about themselves to recognise their own personal leadership assets and how these can be deployed to best effect.

Leaders need to be able to:

  • Show their weaknesses with care
  • Tap into their intuition to judge timing and courses of action
  • Manage people with “tough empathy”
  • Reveal their differences with skill

My questions to you are:

  • Which personal weaknesses do you reveal?
  • How do you use your intuition?
  • How are you different and how can that help you?

“Happy learning!”

3 Responses to Be Yourself – Everyone Else is Taken

  • I feel that management is on the rise because that is what people in leadership positions are being labeled. That by itself sounds rather harmless until you consider that as the norm people, whether they are a manger or a leader, tend to act consistently to there perceived role. If we label someone as a manager they tend to act as a manager. If we label them as a leader they tend to act as a leader. As a confirmation of this, how many people do you know that within their organization have been given the “management” title versus those that have been given the “leadership” title? The difference is striking. I have to wonder at times if by bestowing “management” titles on people if we are not negatively effecting their leadership ability, or even from preventing them from becoming true leaders.

  • Thanks for your comments Bruce.You make an interesting point about Management seeming to be on the rise. If this is the case then there may well be an emphasis on getting people to conform to the present rather than encouraging them to create the future. However, I am not sure it is on the rise. The subject is confused by consultants and trainers labelling management development as leadership and vice versa depending what is seen as in vogue. In my experience there are major skills gaps in both areas.

  • I agree wholeheartedly. The lack of leadership we are experiencing, I feel, is the result of our current society. Leadership and the “me first” mentality so many people embrace today do not mesh well. Leadership is also a spiritual position. A leaders spirit helps develop the spirit of his or her followers. Helping people develop a spirit of self discipline, self worth, and of helping others seeing their contributions and the importance of them are important to leaders. But that requires that a leader be willing to give as much or more than they receive in return. Which doesn’t sit well with the “me first” current mentality. Also consider this. Does this have anythign to do with why management seems to be on the rise while leadership is in decline. Things are easier to manage than people are to lead.

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