THE LEADERS WE NEED: And what makes us follow by Michael Maccoby

Genres: Leadership, Management, Business, Nonfiction

Rating: 3/5

Recommend to: CEOs, Start-up founders, Entrepreneurs, People in sales, Coaches, HR, Project Managers, Team leaders.

Number of pages: 249 pages


In the book Maccoby talks a about how leaders should keep in mind that people have different personalities and values, and to take into account the differences in generations and technology. When we talk about leadership we have to keep in mind that what was needed in the past is not needed now, and some have a problem in dealing with those changes. I also loved some of the cases about leadership in which the author tries to explain why some things work and some don’t in specific fields such as the school system or healthcare. The book is great most of the time, but at times it get’s boring as I get the feeling the author start repeating himself. In the end the biggest takeaway I got from the book is to be alert about the difference in mindsets between different generations. The author points out that todays younger generations value more skills than seniority. Authority based on seniority in an organization supposedly means less than it did in the past. Also todays young generations do not have as much loyalty to an organization or a company as previous generations had. Instead todays generations feel more loyal and connected to a cause, a person or a project they believe in. This is one of the main reasons a strong leadership is needed for an organization, so that it can obtain the best talent and experts in the fields that it needs.

So what makes a great leader? History has the answer. In fact history is a treasure chest of facts of what leadership is and what it is not. The difference between people in charge and leaders is that followers will follow their leader through good and bad situations they find themselves in. But when the going gets tought people who are not followers will slowly start abandoning people in charge and their organizations. In the times we find ourselves at this moment, where technology and information is available to most companies, the biggest advantage an organization can have is the people it has. By that I mean the employees, the customers, and other business partners such as suppliers, advisers, sponsors… The organization that finds the most effective way to connect all of these people by giving them the same purpose (something bigger then themselves) and shows them respect (by giving them authority, responsibility and accountability) will create a movement, that will beat any competition and in the process create more and more opportunities and able leaders. But you are mistaken if you think that leadership is something that you can just “copy and paste” and by doing so create great results. The leaders who shined in the past did so because they took in account the time they were living in, the customs, the culture, personalities of their followers, as also their fears, hopes, dreams… The need for a certain type of leadership also changes with every generation. And that is what you will get to read in the book by Michael Maccoby.

The author explains how  growing up in different circumstances affects how we interact with other people, how we interact with coworkers and what works and doesn’t for different types of social characters. A leadership role is not something a person should get because he/she is in the organization for the longest time, or is an expert in his field. By giving your best expert a leadership role without proper training you might be worse off, since he won’t be able to do his work as well as before, and also he won’t know how to lead his team to get the needed results you expect, ending up with one less expert and a team with a poor leader. There are also different kinds of leaders an organization needs. There is the strategic visionary who prods, pushes and persuades other to follow him  and his new strategies. Then there are the operational implementors, which are the systematic obsessive types, who make sure the strategy is implemented and that the shared purpose is turned into results. And then there are the Bridge-builders, who develop trusting relationships across organizational boundaries, and their role is getting people to understand each other.


  • Leaders are most effective when they and their followers become collaborators who share a common purpose.
  • We need leaders who are motivated to achieve the common good who have the qualities required to gain willing followers in a particular culture, at a historical moment when leadership becomes essential to meet the challenges of that time and place.
  • People today respond to different qualities in leaders than they did a generation ago.
  • The Interactives (social character) – their strength lies in their independence, readiness for change, and quick ability to connect with others and work in a self-managed team. As long as the rules are clear, and the purpose meaningful, they’ll play the game at work, take responsibility for their decisions, and keep learning to stay sharp and marketable, but they don’t want to follow autocratic, intensive bosses who don’t listen. These people won’t be led by father figures, only by role models who engage them as colleagues in meaningful corporate projects, ideally creating a collaborative community.
  • The kind of leaders needed always depends on the context – the challenges of the time and the social character of the people who are being led.
  • Todays leaders are followed because they are good role models who articulate meaningful purpose, are transparent in their communications, encourage dialogue and truth-telling  and they treat people as colleagues and collaborators rather than subordinates.
  • Leadership is a relationship that exists only as long as people follow the leader.
  • Knowledge workers don’t want to work toward a goal because someone else has set it, but because they believe that its right.
  • You can boost work efficiency with leaders who find a way to make work fun. Leaders who find a way to gamefy work.
  • Needs should be viewed in the context of social character.
  • Leaders should spend much time with their people, answering their questions, responding to their arguments – all the while projecting a vision of success.
  • Leaders are needed not only to drive for results but also to adapt and change organizations and to build bridges and networks to connect people who are diverse in skills, outlook, and identity.
  • People transfer experiences and emotions from past relationships onto the present.
  • Transference is the emotional glue that binds people to a leader, that makes them want to follow even when they are unclear about where the leader is taking them.
  • In periods of organizational stress, followers tend to be more dominated by irrational feelings – in particular, the need for praise and protection.
  • Todays generation believes in skill, they don’t believe in following orders.
  • Our identity starts at an early age with our physical characteristics: age, sex ,size. Later, talents and achievements are added. As we grow older, we internalize the identity given us and start to define ourselves.
  • Our cultures influence how we shape our identity.
  • The interactive social characters rather than identifying with a company, they identify with a project or mission, a sport or consumer group.
  • Identities can be powerful motivators because they provide meaning for our lives.
  • The leaders we want are not always the leaders we need.
  • Leaders should be selected not because they are distinguished experts, but because they understand the logic of business, quality, and interactive leadership and have the personality intelligence to select complementary partners and gain collaborators.
  • Good leaders don’t let things lapse, and they don’t shy away from conflict.
  • Leading different social characters means that a leader needs to develop personality intelligence, to understand the people they lead.
  • A common problem with leaders is that they start out with an autocratic style, making decisions without explaining the reasons for them or even trying to orchestrate consensus, just saying “that’s the way we do things here.”
  • Todays time calls for leadership that creates collaboration.
  • To understand people means to understand how they think and what motivates them, their personality. It’s intellectual as well as emotional.
  • Intellect alone organizes data from and about other people, but it doesn’t experience them. The more we experience what we observe, the more information we have to understand each others.
  • Personality and strategic intelligence are the new leadership qualities for the age of knowledge work.
  • A leader must clear his mind. That means avoiding fantasy and all forms of escapism. We can’t see people as they are when our minds are clouded by emotions like lust, anger, or jealousy.
  • Transference distorts how we see others.
  • To make followers willing collaborators you have to first of all engage and convince them of the purpose of your work. Then by understanding them and fitting them into roles where they can demonstrate and develop their strengths, you’ll gain their respect, maybe even their trust.
  • A lot of people are controlled by the idea that they have to respond to the challenges of both their maturing bodies and their culture’s expectations of them at different ages. How they met these challenges forms their competencies, values, emotional attitudes and identity.


Thinking Fast and Slow Daniel Kahneman
Leadership Brand
Trust Covey



Thank you for your time. I hope you have found this book review helpful. Talk to you in the comment section.

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