Chapter 1Know Yourself

Leadership is about influencing people, and a leader is someone who attracts others to follow them. So, if you want to become a more effective leader, you should start by putting yourself in the shoes of those people who work for you. What makes you worth following? Why would they want to be led by you?

Some leaders do this by formulating and communicating an inspiring vision to give people a sense of purpose in their work. It's great if you can do this, but the reality is that many leaders are not bold, charismatic visionaries. If you think about leaders you have worked for, some may have been like this, but others were probably quietly efficient people who got things done without a lot of fuss.

A more universal characteristic of effective leaders is that they are authentic: They bring a human touch to their work, they play to their strengths, and they are highly self-aware. To make the same point in reverse, we can all spot a boss who is faking it – someone who is trying to be the larger-than-life, charismatic leader that they have read about in business magazines. These types of people are a big turn-off, not just because they seem phony but also because they are unpredictable and hard to read, which makes our jobs more difficult. We would much prefer a boss whom we can relate to, who struggles with difficult decisions, who isn't always perfect.

This notion of authenticity is central to our current understanding of effective business leadership. It ...

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