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In an idle moment the other day I typed ‘leadership’ into the books search box on Amazon. I got almost 90,000 results. Let’s think about that for a moment; there are 90,000 books on leadership available to buy. It’s even worse if you try the same on Google – a search for ‘leadership’ gets 145 million results: how to be a leader; how to be a better leader; how to make leaders, grow leaders, spot leaders….the list goes on.

Why are we so obsessed with leadership? Well, it’s because leadership matters; good leadership is the difference between an averagely-performing company and an excellent one. The academic and leadership writer Jim Collins ( spent five years proving this, which resulted in his brilliant book Good to Great. He looked at 1,435 ‘good’ companies and examined their performance over 40 years. He then looked at the 11 companies that became ‘great’ over that time – meaning that they averaged returns that were 6.9 times greater than the market, and sustained them for at least 15 years. The leaders of those businesses played a critical role, but they all had something in common. As Collins put it, “for leaders to make something great, their ambition has to be for the greatness of the work and the company, rather than for themselves”.

The next question is, what makes a great leader? There’s no simple answer, of course, but as leadership consultants we’ve identified a number of important themes and each month we’re going to share some of them with you. So let’s start with authenticity.

Authentic leadership is a relatively modern concept – 60 years ago the command-and-control style was the norm but we, and modern life, have changed. Career paths are far more flexible and we have much greater choice and control over where and how we work. If we don’t like working somewhere, it’s relatively easy to move on. That means that the most successful leaders are those that inspire their followers to perform well. Authentic leadership has its roots in the recognition that people and not processes or systems, create results.

Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones introduced the idea of authentic leadership in their 2006 book Why Should Anyone Be Led By You?, arguing that what organisations and people want is real leaders with personalities that we all recognise, flaws and all:

“Authentic leaders who know who they are, where the organisation needs to go, and how to convince followers to help them take it there”.

Understanding who you are and how your mood and actions affect other people is critical – and that demands a high degree of emotional intelligence. The leadership writer Daniel Goleman ( was one of the first to make the link between leadership and emotional intelligence. As he puts it:

“No matter what leaders set out to do, their success depends on how they do it. Even if they get everything else just right, if leaders fail in this primal task of driving emotions in the right direction, nothing they do will work as well as it could or should.”

Being yourself is more difficult than it sounds, but that’s where we come in. We encourage leaders to engage in self-reflection and ask themselves fundamental questions, such as:

  • What ‘work mask’ are you wearing today?
  • What purpose does the work mask serve?
  • What underlying fear does the ‘work mask’ protect you against?
  • If you lowered your ‘mask’ what might be the consequence?
  • How might you more meaningfully engage with your peers, direct reports and directors so they see the true, powerful you?

As we say at Space2be, it all starts with the mind.

 “… saying that you don’t have time to improve your thoughts and your life is like saying you don’t have time to stop for gas because you’re too busy driving. Eventually it will catch up with you.”

Robin Sharma, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari

If you would like to find out more about driving emotions in the right direction contact us at or 020 7666 3070.