Commentary Search

Why Should Anyone Be Led By You?

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Eric J. Foreman
  • United States Central Command
I have this book I read from the Harvard Business Review Press titled, “Why Should Anyone Be Led By You?” by Robert Goffee and Gareth Jones. The foundation of the book pertains to authentic leadership. However, that’s not what attracted me to the book. The simple title immediately spoke to me. It made me ask myself that very simple question – What qualities do I possess that make me the most viable candidate to lead anyone?

This question should make us reflect on why we are the most qualified person to lead those under our care; such as, our servant heart, adding value to people, and personal and professional growth.

First and foremost, leadership is about having a servant heart; it’s about serving those we lead. If we think leadership is about what we’re supposed to get because of the piece of cloth or metal on our uniform and how others are supposed to serve us, then we’re in the wrong line of work. Having a servant heart is about active, interpersonal engagement with those we lead. It is about building trust and loyalty, creating and developing an organizational culture that promotes a positive and joyful working environment. We want to build a culture where folks are happy to come to work. As Maya Angelou said, “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Leadership is also about adding value to those we lead. We do our very best to add value to our spouses, significant others, children and family members; leadership is no different. Every day there is an abundance of opportunities to add value to those we lead, and we decide whether or not to seize those moments. If we’re not adding value, then we’re taking value from those we lead, and they will quickly lose interest and divorce themselves from us in mind and heart. A day doesn’t pass us by where there aren’t opportunities to add value to those we lead. The only excuse, and a very poor one, is that we choose not to.

Leadership development is about the consistent pursuit of education and knowledge. Growth in leadership abilities is an intentional journey that never ceases. There are endless amounts of books and periodicals on leadership and management. The only excuse for not growing is that we choose not to educate ourselves. Those we lead deserve our best effort to continually develop ourselves.

Finally, we must earn the attendance at our farewells and retirements. If our desire is for a celebration of our leadership legacy, such as farewells and retirements, then we should enter those rooms knowing that we have added value to those we have led, and that is why they celebrate with us. We want those in attendance to want to be there because we added value to them and they wanted to celebrate that occasion with us.

Why should anyone be led by us is a question we need to ask ourselves every day. If it’s simply because of our rank or position, then we’re not the right person for the job. Albert Einstein said, “try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value." If we are focused on leading with a servant heart, we will add value to people, we will continually grow and develop ourselves, and we will earn the attendance at our farewells and retirements.