Informative Summary Goffee, R. & Jones, G. (2000, September/October). Why should anyone be led by you? Harvard Business Review, 78 (5), 62-70. All leaders need vision and energy, but to be inspirational, leaders need four other qualities as well: selectively showing weaknesses, relying on intuition, managing with tough empathy, and revealing differences. The report is aimed to help executives and business leaders understand the necessary qualities one needs to become a great inspirational leader. Robert Goffee and Gareth Jones for the past 10 years have asked the question to many executives, “Why would anyone want to be led by you?” Their research into leadership has been ongoing for the last 25 years. In the last year alone there were more than 2,000 books written on leadership, but they found that inspirational leaders share the following four qualities. First, executives who show some of their own weaknesses establish trust between co-workers, which creates a work-friendly atmosphere. Leaders who appear to be flawless are sometimes difficult to approach. When leaders show weaknesses, they seem more genuine and real to their followers. As these weaknesses are shown, harmony and unity is built between the executive and the follower. However, exposing these weaknesses must be done carefully. A leader never wants to show a weakness that could be detrimental to their profession. Leaders need to show competency in their profession while also showing simple flaws. Secondly, inspirational leaders are a good situation sensor which means that they can easily know what is going on in different circumstances without having to ask. They have an instinct that allows them to sense their surroundings and understand feelings that aren’t always vocally expressed. Ray van Schaik, the chairman of Heineken in the early 1990's, is a good example of someone who has very refined sensors. Van Schaik, unlike other executives, could read Heineken even though they weren't always in direct contact. He developed the ability to know what Heineken wanted before being told. Sensing is a great quality to have; nevertheless, it can create problems. Sometimes when leaders sense something, it could interfere with the truth. Sometimes it is necessary to understand the situation completely before jumping to conclusions. Third, inspirational leaders practice tough empathy. Tough empathy means fulfilling peoples needs, and not always giving them what they desire. Many times mangers are told to be soft on the criticism given to employees, but tough empathy involves being direct. Often it is necessary to be tough on employees. That toughness shows them that you care about their work. It balances respect for the individual, and helps them accomplish their assignments. An organization like the Marine Corps, are unique in they way they show tough empathy. A recruit is always pushed to the limits with a “grow or go” motto. However, if the business is going through difficulties, leaders need to be careful about how they show tough empathy. In those times, leaders need to be willing to step back, and look at the situation from a different perspective. This can be difficult, but when a leader develops this quality it helps show their followers their true selves. It shows them that you genuinely care about their work, and that you want them to succeed. The final quality a leader must have is the willingness to be different. Using differences is the most important quality of the four mentioned. Showing some kind of difference helps people remember whom you are. It differentiates the executive from everyone else, and their employees follow them. It serves to help keep a distance from those you work with. Leaders realize that followers will push themselves if they are a little detached. They use separateness to motivate and inspire others. However, some leaders lose contact with their followers by over differentiating themselves. Leaders need to be separated, but they can't lose contact. In order for these four qualities to work, they must become part of the leader’s personality. It can be difficult to implement them because it isn’t always natural. One important thing to remember is that there is no single right way to become a great leader; however, learning these four qualities is a necessary first step. Once you begin to understand these qualities, you can start implementing them in your life in your own personal way. An important recommendation is that you must always be yourself.
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