People at Work
People at Work
Feb 22, 2021
Leadership and the Who* Not What Principle with Tim Spiker
Play • 32 min

I think that if you asked people what are the key traits of great leaders the most common answer would be charisma or confidence. But is that actually the case?

Tim Spiker’s research has shown that three-quarters of your effectiveness as a leader comes from who you are, not what you did. Tim calls this the Who* Not What Principle. His findings on what parts of the “who” are most important go against the common notion that leaders have to be charismatic, charming, and outgoing. Rather, Tim found that being inwardly sound and others-focused are the two fundamental attributes of exceptional leaders.

I had a great time chatting with Tim. We touched on why tactics-first approaches to leadership development often don’t have long-term benefits, how focusing on the who of leadership takes more commitment but has a longer-lasting impact, and how you can become a leader who is actually worth following.

About our guest:

Tim Spiker is the founder of The Aperio and the Who* Not What Principle, a profound research-based truth that has powered 15 years of leadership development success. Tim’s book, The Only Leaders Worth* Following, reveals that 77% of leadership effectiveness comes from who a leader is and not what they do. Using this principle, Tim helps people become, be, and stay leaders who are actually worth following. Tim currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia with his wife and four children.

You can connect with Tim on LinkedIn at, or visit his website,


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