Leading So People Will Follow

ISBN: 978-1-118-37987-5
224 pages
October 2012, Jossey-Bass
US $26.95 Add to Cart

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Business & Finance, Jossey-Bass

October 11, 2012
San Francisco, CA

Leading so People Will Follow


By Erika Andersen

“A book to read more than once and to consult many times.”


The bookshelves bulge with advice on how to be an effective leader. Yet despite the plethora of advice, truly great leadership remains rare. Add today’s challenging economic environment and a brutal election season, and the need for truly effective business and political leaders has never been so desperately clear. From non-profits to corporations, local governments to the halls of Congress, Americans are in search of worthy leadership from those in charge.

In a new book, leadership coach and strategy expert Erika Andersen addresses this pervasive and pressing need from a new perspective – offering a strategic plan for how to lead so people will follow.

In LEADING SO PEOPLE WILL FOLLOW (Jossey-Bass; Oct. 9, 2012; hardcover), Andersen draws on the classic ‘leader story’ found in folktales the world over to reveal the six traits that followers instinctively look for in a leader: far-sighted, passionate, courageous, wise, generous, and trustworthy.

“Until recently in our history as a race, choosing a leader was a life or death decision,” writes Andersen. “And even though the stakes may not be as high today, we’re still wired to accept as leaders only those who line up with our centuries-old “map” of leadership attributes.”

Using present-day examples to illustrate her case – from organizations like NBCUniversal and Apple, to individuals such as famed restaurateur Danny Meyer and media innovator Nancy Tellem, Andersen offers insight into the specific characteristics required to become an accepted leader:

Far-sighted – We are drawn to leaders who articulate a possible future in a way that speaks to us and includes us.  Their focus on what’s possible – and how to get there – inspires hopefulness and a sense of purpose and draws out our best efforts.

Passionate – Passion in a leader is a pure, abiding commitment to something meaningful: a cause, a vision, or a set of principles. When we work with a passionate leader, we know that person will continue to be guided by his or her commitments regardless of setbacks and adversity.

Courageous – We look for courageous leaders who can make tough decisions; overcome fear and risk to act on them; and respond to the outcomes in a responsible way. If the leader isn’t courageous, people revert to self-protection; collaboration and innovation fade.

Wise – Wise leadership gives people the confidence that important decisions will be given the thought they deserve. Wise leaders feel like the safest possible harbor – especially in times of great change.

Generous – Generous leaders want us to thrive, and they support this intention through their words and actions. It creates a hopeful environment that feels rich even in hard times. Generous leaders make us feel capable, included, motivated to succeed, and generous ourselves.

Trustworthy – Trustworthy leaders create an environment of safety and calm, where we can put down roots and grow. When we trust a leader, much more of our energy is available to the organization. Trust is the essential bond between a true leader and his or her followers; it inspires creativity, hopefulness, and honesty.

“Learning these six attributes gives people a useful, practical framework for self-reflection and growth,” writes Andersen. “And it helps them to build better teams and organizations by becoming the leader who provides a strong, safe point around which people’s hopes and efforts can coalesce.”

Andersen also focuses on the importance of getting help along the way, encouraging leaders to seek out and call upon three key types of supporters: wizards, well-wishers, and wild cards. Wizards are people with unusual knowledge or insights essential to the leader’s success. Well-wishers support the leader’s highest intentions and believe in his or her potential. And wild cards are those people who have something the leader really needs – but that’s not visible until they’re on his or her side.

As Andersen writes, “Leadership really is all about the survival of the whole. Being an effective leader not only requires the support of others; it requires support from others.”

Rich with actionable advice and opportunities for honest reflection throughout each chapter, LEADING SO PEOPLE WILL FOLLOW offers the blueprint for developing the leadership attributes that elicit trust, loyalty, and commitment. What’s more, Andersen provides readers with exclusive online access to the Accepted Leader Self-assessment, so they can see where they excel and where they need to improve as leaders. 

In a time when we all need good and worthy leaders as never before, Andersen offers an essential playbook for becoming a truly followable leader.