Why should anyone be led by you?

Submitting Institution

London Business School

Unit of Assessment

Business and Management Studies

Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Information and Computing Sciences: Information Systems
Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services: Business and Management
Psychology and Cognitive Sciences: Psychology

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Summary of the impact

Rob Goffee and his co-author Gareth Jones have examined the foundations of great leadership in a series of articles and a very well received book. Their research shows that the key characteristic that distinguishes great leaders is that they are authentic. The work has influenced leading organizations across the world, as they define their key leadership competencies, and training organizations that base their leadership development around the findings of this research.

Underpinning research

The underpinning research has been completed over the last twenty years. Professor Rob Goffee has been at the London Business School during the period that the research was conducted.

Three research outputs from 2000-06 that report the research are described here.

Goffee and Jones (Harvard Business Review, 2000) described four behaviours that differentiate great leaders from mediocre ones: (i) they selectively show their weaknesses; (ii) they rely on intuition; (iii) they manage with tough empathy; and (iv) they reveal their differences. This work, which presented specific behaviours that leaders could enact, was based on extensive interviews with many leaders (these interviews are documented more fully in a later book which is described below). It contrasted with the existing academic literature: existing work had emphasized less concrete characteristics such as vision, energy, and authority as the bases for great leadership.

In a follow-up article Goffee and Jones (Harvard Business Review, 2005) provided an explicit model of authentic leadership. Based on their previous work and further interviews with senior corporate leaders, they argued that the behaviours that they described in their previous work allow leaders to show their `authentic' selves. To be an authentic leader, they argued, one needs to know oneself and others very well, and to connect to the context in which they are leaders. Goffee and Jones presented a list of specific actions that one could take to become better at all three of the above. As with the previous article, this one distinguished itself from the existing leadership literature: it provided a plan that has been documented to help people become better leaders.

Goffee and Jones synthesized these and added to them in their hugely influential book: Why should anyone be led by you? They provided details about their research in this book; for instance, they documented all of the leaders that they interviewed as part of the project. In addition to reiterating the points about specific behaviour from their two articles, Goffee and Jones covered the relational aspect of leadership stating: "you cannot be a leader without followers." Since the relationship between people is both individual and complex, there is no simple way to explain it so the authors use many of examples that have emerged from their research. According to them, people want to be led not by a person with a fancy job title or a manager who has amassed a vast chunk of organizational power or territory. Employees will choose to follow only a real, live, genuine human being who reveals some of their humanity, values, personality, and even vulnerability.

References to the research

Research Articles

"Why Should Anyone Be Led by You?" Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones, Harvard Business Review 78(5), September 2000, pp. 62-70.

"Managing Authenticity: The Paradox of Great Leadership," Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones, Har-vard Business Review 83(12), December 2005, pp. 86-94.



Why Should Anyone Be Led by You? What It Takes to Be an Authentic Leader by Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones, 2006, Harvard University Press. ISBN: 978-1578519712


Evidence of quality. The Harvard Business Review is a leading practitioner-relevant general management journal, rated as 4? by the Association of Business Schools. The Goffee-Jones book was published by a leading business press. It has sold in large numbers (108,500 hardback and 2,500 electronic copies, as of 21 October, 2013) and has been translated into seventeen languages.

Details of the impact

General Impact. The Goffee-Jones leadership framework has had a large impact on practitioners. Their 2000 article in the Harvard Business Review won the McKinsey Foundation for Management Research award for the best article published that year. These awards are "judged by an independent panel of leaders in the business community, recognize outstanding works that are likely to have a major influence on the actions of business managers worldwide." The article features in the Harvard Business School Press compilation of the ten `must read' articles on leadership.

Audience Reach. The work is also widely read. A search on the phrase Goffee and Jones "Why should anyone be led by you" reveals 95,000 hits (October 17, 2013). As noted above in the evidence of quality, Why Should Anyone Be Led by You? What It Takes to Be an Authentic Leader has sold over 100,000 copies and has been translated into seventeen languages.

Specific Impacts. Many organizations in both the public and private sectors use the Goffee-Jones model to define leadership competencies for talent management. The remainder of this case study documents the explicit use of the Goffee-Jones leadership model in a broad range of applications, ranging across both the public and private sectors and also across different industries.

The first two examples of impact are taken from the public sector.

Australian Public Service Commission. The Goffee-Jones model is used by the Strategic Centre for Leadership, Learning and Development of the Australian Public Service Commission for its leadership development strategy. The centre was set up following the identification of a need to enhance leadership development, talent management, and core skills learning and development across the Australian Public Service. The Goffee and Jones model is in their leadership development strategy statement; a link is provided in the list of corroboration sources.

Canadian Health Services Research Foundation. A second public-sector example is the use of the model in the final report by the Canadian Health Services Research Foundation for the leadership capability framework for healthcare in Canada. A link to the October 2007 report, in which the key book is cited, is provided in the corroboration sources.

Private companies actively use the Goffee-Jones model in defining their leadership competencies. Rob Goffee often achieves impact for his work through consulting relationships: his clients have included Anglo-American, Axa, Electronic Arts, Heineken, InterContinental Hotels, KPMG, Legal & General, MLIM, Nestle, ´ Roche, Singapore Airlines, and Unilever.

Roche. This major pharmaceutical company engages in "developing medicines and diagnostics that will help patients live longer, better lives." As well as using the Goffee-Jones framework (verified via the corroboration sources) Roche was also involved in subsequent Goffee-Jones research. In the opening remarks to their paper "Leading Clever People (Harvard Business Review, March 2007) Goffee and Jones quoted the (then) Roche CEO and Chairman Franz Humer to motivate the need for "economies of ideas." This demonstrates that Roche entered into an interactive process, where the beneficiaries of the research impact contribute to the research process.

Nestlé. This business describes itself as "the world's leading nutrition, health and wellness company." It is well known for its large portfolio of brands. Rob Goffee has an ongoing relationship with them, providing executive education based around his research in conjunction with London Business School. They actively implement Goffee-Jones in defining leadership competencies.

The model is also the basis for management consultants' work with corporations.

Blessing White. This consulting firm has some of the leading corporations in the world among its clients. It uses the Goffee-Jones model as the basis for their leadership development consulting practice. On the day of the REF submission, for example, Blessing White is offering an event "Why should anyone be led by you?" in Mumbai, India. The programme description (a link is provided in the corroboratory sources) explicitly bases this on the Goffee-Jones work.

Centre for Creative Leadership. This consultancy specializes in leadership. It offers "an exclusive focus on leadership education and research and unparalleled expertise in solving the leadership challenges of individuals and organizations everywhere. We equip clients around the world with the skills and insight to achieve more than they thought possible through creative leadership."

Finally, there is the impact on executive education. Beyond LBS activities, there is a significant impact on "in house" executive education.

Northumbria University. This higher education institution offers a "Future Leaders Programme" (a link is provided) for "staff who are identified as having the potential to achieve a senior leadership role . . . " Its session on "managing self and leading others" bases itself on the Goffee-Jones work.

National Health Service. The United Kingdom's NHS has an internal executive education function; their leadership education features the Goffee-Jones work. It is cited, for example, in a recent paper which describes the underpinning research to their approach.

Sources to corroborate the impact

Confirmation of awards from prestigious organizations.

www.isc.hbs.edu/mckinsey.pdf. The second page lists the 2010 award.


Use of the Goffee-Jones model in defining leadership competencies in the public-sector.



"The Pan-Canadian Health Leadership Capability Framework Project: A Collaborative Research Initiative to Develop a Leadership Capability Framework for Healthcare in Canada," Final report submitted to Canadian Health Services Research Foundation, October 2007.

www.cfhi-fcass.ca/Migrated/PDF/Health Leadership Framework E.pdf

Private-sector beneficiaries.

For corroboration of the impact at Roche, please contact the chairman and ex-CEO, or the human resources main board director. For corroboration of the impact at Nestle,´ please contact the Chairman and ex-CEO, or the human resources director; the latter contact is also an executive committee member at LVMH (Moet¨ Chandon · Louis Vuitton). Names are provided in the supplementary contact details for corroborators.


Blessing White: www.blessingwhite.com

also: www.blessingwhite.com/elibrary/eWhy Should Anyone be Led by You%28US%29.pdf

Centre for Creative Leadership: www.ccl.org/Leadership/

Executive education.



"Towards a New Model of Leadership for the NHS," John Storey and Richard Holti, NHS Leadership Academy, June 2013. www.leadershipacademy.nhs.uk ....../wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Towards-a-New-Model-of-Leadership-2013.pdf