The AMA Handbook of Leadership

By Marshall Goldsmith; John Baldoni et al. | Go to book overview

FOREWORD

Imagine you're sitting in a meeting with a group of your colleagues. The door to the conference room opens, in walks a person you've never met before, and she says, “Hi, I'm your new leader.”

What questions do you immediately want to ask this person?

My coauthor, Barry Posner, and I regularly present this scenario to people as part of our ongoing leadership research. People have lots and lots of questions, but by far the most frequently asked is: Who are you?

If you are the leader who walks into that room one day, it's the first question you must be prepared to answer.

People want to know about you. They want to know about your values and beliefs, what you really care about, and what keeps you awake at night. They want to know who most influenced you, what prepares you for the job you're doing, and what you're like as a person. They want to know what drives you, what makes you happy, and what ticks you off. They want to know why you want to be their leader and why they ought to be following you. They want to know if you play the piano—or something else—and they want to know something about your family. They want to know your personal story.

Wanting to know who you are isn't about prying. It's about learning to trust. We're just more likely to trust people we know, and the more we know about our leaders the more likely we are to trust them as human beings. Of course, before you can share any of this with others, you have to have clarity about it yourself. You have to know you before others can truly know you.

-ix-

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