Review of Why Should Anyone Be Led by You?

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Why Should Anyone Be Led by You? book summary


8 Overall

9 Applicability

8 Innovation

8 Style


Business professors Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones – authors of the best-selling Why Should Anyone Work Here? – became known with the 2006 first edition of this insightful book. Even though Goffee and Jones first offered their advice in a pre-2008 financial meltdown environment, it resonates even more powerfully today. This speaks to the rare and timeless virtues they ascribe to true leaders – virtues they insist you can develop by following their advice. Given that you can’t un-know what you already know, you may recognize some of their once groundbreaking premises about leadership from the work of a decade’s worth of other writers and consultants who studied their book and repackaged their tenets. While once astonishing and innovative, the authors’ leadership ideas have become canonical. Their updated advice on discovering your personal authenticity is the basis of most contemporary leadership guidance. Goffee and Jones communicate in a relaxed conversational tone and offer clear, actionable examples. They focus on teaching leaders, future leaders and – crucially – followers how to find their authentic selves and discover the leader within. The authors include illustrative anecdotes about leaders who exemplify their main points and themes. As compelling as these stories may be, they remain less fascinating than the authors’ moral, effective concept of true leadership. getAbstract recommends their enduring, accessible advice to leaders and managers at every level, aspiring leaders, and those who want to know themselves more thoroughly and maximize their leadership qualities.

About the Authors

Rob Goffee is professor emeritus of organizational behavior at the London Business School’s Senior Executive Program. Gareth Jones, a fellow of the school’s Center for Management Development, also teaches at Madrid’s IE Business School. He and Goffee consult together and co-authored Why Should Anyone Work Here? and Clever.



The authors maintain that their principles of leadership are even more relevant today than when their first edition appeared. They recognize that their conception of “authentic leadership” has become a “modern orthodoxy.” Thousands of authors and consultants have built an “industry” that preaches authenticity. But Goffee and Jones always held and still hold that personal authenticity alone doesn’t automatically make a leader noteworthy. Their bedrock principle is that authentic behavior “manifests” in the context of corporate culture and in how leaders relate to and connect with others. Authenticity is not a single, contained aspect of any leader’s personality and doesn’t describe those who isolate themselves in an inaccessible tower of power. Today’s leaders have less available time than leaders of a decade ago. Modern leaders must hone their ability to read situations and behave appropriately. They must think and act quickly. The authors call this ability “situational sensing” and regard it as a crucial leadership skill.

Goffee and Jones explain that leaders need to understand the functional context of every move they make and they must “redefine” that context as needed. Today, they also have to account for the ever watchful eye of social media – a pervasive voice that’s always ready to redefine a leader’s context. The years since 2006 have brought many new forms of communication. Leaders must know how to use and exploit them. Finally, the authors emphasize that “leadership development is a continuous process.” Nobody is born a perfect leader; nobody makes himself or herself into one. People must find their own leadership qualities, hone them and keep honing.

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