Leading So People Will Follow | Erika Andersen

Summary of: Leading So People Will Follow
By: Erika Andersen


In ‘Leading So People Will Follow,’ author Erika Andersen delves into the characteristics of a great leader by drawing parallels from age-old tales, myths, and fables, where heroes triumph against the odds. Continuing this tradition, the book outlines six essential attributes leaders should develop: farsightedness, passion, courage, wisdom, generosity, and trustworthiness. Uncovering and enhancing these qualities not only makes for a legendary leader but also creates an environment where team members willingly follow. Throughout this summary, Andersen will provide insights and examples for nurturing these attributes while seeking help from ‘wizards, well-wishers, and wild cards’ who can aid you on the journey to becoming an exceptional leader.

The Attributes of a Great Leader

Throughout history, people have woven stories and legends to illustrate the qualities of a leader. This book excerpt shares the foundational attributes one needs to develop in order to become a great leader. It emphasizes that leading an organization is a group activity and suggests seeking help from wise individuals, well-wishers, and wild cards.

From ancient times, human beings have sought great leaders. Leaders who inspire them and help their communities combat enemy attacks and conquer great perils. Many well-loved myths, fables, and fairy tales concern a hero who rescues a princess or a kingdom. The hero begins as a decent, unremarkable person who reveals or develops characteristics that enable them to surmount enormous obstacles.

The foundational attributes one needs to develop in order to become a great leader are farsightedness, passion, courage, wisdom, generosity, and trustworthiness. These traits are crucial for survival and throughout history, human survival has depended on having leaders who speak for the group and then follow it up with action.

Like the heroic youth in the story, anyone striving to become a leader needs assistance on their journey. Leading an organization is a group activity, and one should seek help from “wizards,” people who are wise and have unusual insights; “well-wishers,” those who believe in you implicitly, even when things are not going well; and “wild cards,” people who appear to be a threat but become significant supporters if won over.

Wizards could take the form of consultants or coaches either inside or outside the company. Before accepting their help, make sure they bring something remarkable to your quest. They could provide templates of knowledge or insight from another organization, or they might possess particular skills you need. Seek out well-wishers among your friends, family or colleagues. Wild cards are harder to identify, but they could be those who hamper progress at first but go on to help them reach the top.

To become a legendary leader, it takes more than a title or a position. The six crucial character traits – farsightedness, passion, courage, wisdom, generosity, and trustworthiness – are what set great leaders apart.

Creating a Compelling Vision

Creating and sharing a compelling vision for the future is vital for any leader. The vision must be grounded in reality, but not too pessimistic or optimistic. It must include anticipated outcomes and recognize the greater good. To make the vision resonate with others, leaders must listen to their priorities. The leader should model their vision and hold themselves to it, and put themselves in their followers’ shoes. Leaders should act in support of their own morality and have the courage to move past their own limitations. By using the vision as a filter, leaders can weigh proposals and address obstacles. Finally, appreciating and recognizing team members’ contributions is key to keeping them motivated and committed to the vision.

The Power of Passionate Leadership

True leadership stems from an unwavering conviction that emanates without the need for explanation. A leader’s beliefs should be so intense that their team members are compelled to follow. However, dissonance between words and actions can result in the loss of this support. Effective leaders must maintain a balance between creativity and business and incorporate feedback from their colleagues. Peter Liguori’s strategy of setting up a “creative council” comprising innovative executives who were committed due to his passionate leadership is a testament to the effectiveness of this approach. By sharing both power and responsibility, leaders encourage their team members to make decisions and become invested in their consequences. An open mind and a consistent message inspire genuine commitment and loyalty. Walking the talk and never being rigid in your approach are the hallmarks of authentic and effective leadership.

Courage in Business

In today’s world, courage in business goes beyond physical bravery. It involves making tough decisions with incomplete information and acting despite discomfort. Linda Yaccarino, the president of cable entertainment and digital ad sales for NBCUniversal, exemplifies this kind of courage by breaking new ground with tailored advertising, even with little data. Putting the priorities of the enterprise above personal interests is another example of courage in leadership. Acting courageously also means being honest with employees about difficult news and taking responsibility for mistakes. When mistakes occur, offering guidance to prevent similar problems in the future is essential. In summary, courage in business is about being honest, straightforward, prioritizing the interests of the organization, and taking responsibility for mistakes to gain the trust of colleagues and succeed financially.

The Wisdom of Reflecting on Experiences

Human societies have always yearned for wise leaders who can learn from their experiences and share their insights with others. This is exemplified by Wonya Lucas, the CEO of TV One, who demonstrated her wisdom by steering a strategy session away from an unfruitful direction. To become wise, one must deepen their curiosity and objectivity, examine the entire picture, and work to determine what is right before acting accordingly. It’s crucial to reflect on your experiences until you understand what happened and why, so you can gain wisdom and earn respect for your insights.

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