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4.7 out of 5 stars
Leading So People Will Follow
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Format: Kindle Edition
This is a wonderful book well worth multiple readings.

First, some context.

"Leadership" is perhaps one of the most abused and misused words of our time. With heart-touching background music, political advertisements talk about "leadership" as the core reason for your vote, even if the candidate has never led as much as a neighborhood homeowners association. Coaches talk about an athlete's "leadership" on the field or on the court. The business media report on the "leadership" expected of a new CEO, or the failed "leadership" of an executive given the boot. But rarely do we see or hear a precise, actionable definition of what true leadership actually entails and requires.

Erika Andersen comes to the rescue in Leading So People Will Follow. The title itself seems to self-evident. Sadly, it's usually not so obvious in actual practice. For reasons still mystifying in this day of easy access to so much information on every subject imaginable, many people try to "lead" by position, by manipulation, by coercion, by charisma, by sound bite, and even by good intentions. It's all for naught.

Simply put, effective leaders behave in ways that engage people, that earn people's trust, that inspire people's confidence, that influence people to invest their discretionary effort in a common cause. In other words, you aren't really a leader unless and until people willingly follow.

Let's face it, most of us long for good leaders. Unfortunately, the person "appointed" as our leader is too often not the person whom others look to for direction and reassurance.

So, what exactly are the behaviors that inspire followership? Erika Andersen provides a practical framework that any aspiring leader can use for reflection and growth. The acknowledged leader, she writes, is:

1. Far-sighted
2. Passionate
3. Courageous
4. Wise
5. Generous
6. Trustworthy

To breathe life and vitality into each attribute, the author provides multiple examples and case studies from forward-thinking organizations where she has had the benefit of first-hand experience. She gives illustrations from leaders she has personally observed and, in some case, coached. Then at the end of each chapter she offers a "Try It" check list of things you can do to test drive the principles and practices she advocates.

This is not a book of theories or simple feel-good bromides. It is rich with the specific whats, whys, and hows of engaging followers. You get big ideas in bite-sized, easily digestible servings. The result is so satisfying you'll want to return to the table again and again. If Erika Andersen were a chef, this book would be her five-star restaurant.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
Those who have read any of Erika Andersen's earlier works -- notably Growing Great Employees: Turning Ordinary People into Extraordinary Performers and Being Strategic: Plan for Success; Out-think Your Competitors; Stay Ahead of Change -- already know that she is among the business world's most knowledgeable authorities on what effective leadership is...and isn't. I think her latest is her most important and most valuable book...thus far.

In it, she focuses on "what those core timeless attributes [of great leadership] are, why they are so essential to us, and perhaps most important, how to develop these attributes yourself." She characterizes them as "archetypal elements" that help to explain why people follow some people and not others. At one point she realized, "I had indeed stumbled onto something primal, that I had identified those attributes that resonate in our 'looking-for-leaders DNA.'" They are Farsighted, Passionate, Courageous, Wise, Generous, and Trustworthy. Not a headsnapper among them, nor does Andersen make any such claim, but all are eminently worthy of the chapter she devotes to each.

I commend her on her brilliant use of several reader-friendly devices that include dozens of "Try It" sections inserted throughout her lively and eloquent narrative. For aspiring leaders-in-training, I think these exercises resemble (at least to some extent) the purpose and functionality of simulation exercises that pilots-in-waiting use to gain valuable experience without risk. I also commend her on her clever use of "Core Ideas" that are also strategically inserted throughout the narrative. They will facilitate, indeed expedite review of key points later.

These are among the dozens of passages that caught my eye:

o Drawing the Leadership Map (Pages 8-10)
o Why Farsightedness Is Important (22-25)
o How to Envision a Possible Future (28-30)
o How to See Past Obstacles (43-44)
o How to Support of Others' Passion (58-59)
o Balancing the First Three Attributes: Farsightedness, Passion, and Courage (84-85)
o How to Be Generous (109-113)
o The Foundational Attribute: Trust (139-140)
o Finding a Wizard (158-160)
o Questioning: How and Why Asking the Right Question Improves both Listening and Learning (178-179)
o Managing Your Self-talk (182-185)

I agree with Andersen about the importance of having the right "companions" (especially a "wizard") to provide support and encouragement during one's journey to become the kind of leader others then wish to follow. The lessons learned while proving worthy of these companions will prove invaluable later when proving worthy of a followership. Hence the importance of having the authenticity to which Oscar Wilde referred years ago when suggesting, "Be yourself. Everyone else is taken." To this point, Erika Andersen has much of value to say about being wise (in Chapter 6) and being trustworthy (in Chapter 8). Those who read and then (hopefully) re-read her latest book with appropriate care will be well-prepared to become "the kind of leader people long for - one who can partner with and guide them past all the modern trolls and monsters [they'll] encounter, so that [they] can find [their] own twenty-first-century happy endings. On to the journey!"

When concluding this brief commentary, I quote my favorite passage from the Lao-Tzu in which Tao Te Ching articulates what I view as the essence of great leadership:

"Learn from the people
Plan with the people
Begin with what they have
Build on what they know
Of the best leaders
When the task is accomplished
The people will remark
We have done it ourselves."
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 3, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
I own all three of Erika Andersen's books, but this is the first time I've taken a moment to write a review. Not only is this book well-written and captivating, but it explains complex matters in a very simple and clear manner. Erika has the remarkable ability to help you identify your strengths and weaknesses, then she provides practical steps to help you reach your highest potential. Her approach is unlike anything I've seen before, and I'm truly grateful to have a guide like this for my personal and professional growth. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to my friends, family and co-workers, as well as anyone who wants to learn the best way to be(come) a successful and respected leader.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 3, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
This is an excellent book on leadership. Unlike many books in the often-trendy field, this book looks at leadership based on timeless principles that have been as important to leaders across cultures and across times as they are to us, today.

The author's leadership model is that rare combination of one that is both values-based, and highly practical. She shares many examples that are culled from her own experience working with extraordinary leaders in the business world: individuals who have earned the respect, not just of the marketplace, but also of those who work for them. She also offers detailed practical advice on how anyone can build their capacity to become a genuine leader.

Reading this book is an inspiration, a call to action and an antidote to cynicism. It made me ponder: if the attitudes, qualities and behaviors the author describes were followed more widely, would we face the crisis of confidence we observe in many domains within the cultural landscape these days? Or not? And perhaps on a more basic level; would we enjoy our work more while getting more accomplished at the same time? Read this book and see what you think.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I have read all of Erika's books and one of my favorite things about her writing is her unique ability to take complex subjects and make them simple and easy to apply. Leading So People Will Follow is a must-read for anyone who manages a team or aspires to lead at some point in their lives or career. It crystallizes the core characteristics of great leaders through wonderful storytelling and real world examples, while also providing a clear behavioral framework for how to develop and apply them. Erika is like your personal coach walking you through each step, helping you to assess where you are as a leader and how to develop the areas that will make you someone others eagerly choose to follow.

As an executive coach and trainer, I see that so many people regardless of how much success they have achieved, still struggle with how to become the kind of leader that people want to follow. I also see that for those who don't develop these skills, there are ultimately roadblocks that arise due to those limitations. This is such a wonderful resource for those individuals who are looking to develop those skills but up until now, really had no practical guide for how to tackle the challenge.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on October 4, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
If you want a clear, well written, practical guide for how to lead, then this book is for you. Erika Andersen takes the guess work out of what it takes to be worthy of followers. It's written for leaders at all levels. Don't pass up the link to the free Accepted Leader Assessment in the epilogue. It's a quick and easy way to assess yourself on the six leadership attributes.

This book is a game changer for anyone trying to get to the next level of leadership in their organization.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 12, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
So happy to read such a practical, skill-based leadership book! We so often think leaders are born, not made, and Erika Anderson turns that notion on its ear. She gives us a simple formula and a clear path to develop the key skills leaders need to succeed in any endeavor!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 8, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
I found Leading So People Will Follow to be a very helpful book! Not only is it a fun read, with a wonderful narrative, it's incredibly helpful in understanding what makes a leader! The 6 attributes Erika outlines in her book are so practical; they seem obvious! Another thing I really liked about this book is Erika's use of REAL WORLD examples, and people. I love having ACTUAL people that I can look up, and see what they have been able to accomplish, using the skills Erika outlines in her book! Its something I plan to refer to over, and over again.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I find leadership books in general to be cumbersome; heavy on theory and light on usability.
So you can imagine my excitement after finishing Leading So People Will Follow in just a few evenings, armed with loads of constructive ideas for how to be and coach
others to be the kind of person that people choose to follow. Not only does Andersen, based on decades of experience, clearly and concisely (thank you!) define the 6 characteristics of a leader, but she goes on to outline the behaviors that characterize each AND how to develop them. In my work with time starved leaders and aspiring leaders, once they see the personal benefit of trying a new leadership approach, they are eager to know exactly what they need to do and say, tomorrow. The answer to those questions is in this approachable and highly sensible book. If you aren't truly inspired by what you read in this book I would be surprised.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Erika Anderson is a founding partner of a management consulting firm and this book is really designed for business people who want a better understanding of leadership in business. In that sense it may well be a four or five star book. I have rated it at three becsuse for me personally, as a non-business person with some experience with life Ms. Anderson's views are not new or expecially insightful.

Ms. Anderson suggests that leadership has six components,each of which has five aspects, a package that is too neat for me. Her components are: Farsighted, Compassionate, Courageous,Wise, Gererous and Trustworthy. Another six and she could make a boy scout! Each of these is further divided into five component parts, never four or six.

What makes the book valueable for business people, especially young people, is that she gives numerous examples from real life of what each leadership quality means in practice and challenges the reader to examine his/her own skill level on these items. Thus if a person took this book seriously as a work book on leadership in business, and especially on how their own style met these critieria, it could prove to be very valuable.

But for the non-business person just looking to understand something about leadership in general it is not very useful.
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