“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” —Margaret Mead
Are great leaders born or are they made? Or is it a mixture of both? Great leaders are not just found in big boardrooms and fortune 500 companies.
With the shrinking of the world and the dawn of the age of information, startups are getting smaller. And new entrepreneurs are being born every day.
Whether you work for a company or manage a team, effective leadership skills are essential for the leap forward.
You may have that flash of insight and need to put together a team and inspire them to develop your idea further.
Many people remain content not to take the responsibility and burden that comes with effective leadership.
But all that changes when you reframe YOU as a brand. Consider the idea that you are a leader in your own life.
Great leadership is a quality that demands us to steer our personal, professional and social life towards excellence.
Here are some great ideas to inspire you:
1. Do You Inspire Others?
“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” ― William Arthur Ward
Telling someone is only halfway as effective as explaining.
Better than explaining is to show what you mean.
And the most effective leadership skill is to inspire others towards a common cause.
The best way that you can inspire someone else is to be inspired, enthusiastic and excited for your own work.
2. Use The Power Of Empathy
“To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt
A Powerful tool that an effective leader can implement is empathy. A great leader seeks to understand.
When you use your logical head, you can come to a different conclusion than when you use your heart and deep empathy.
When people realize that you seek to understand and that you care, you will get great support from them.
3. Understand Power and Control
“Power isn’t control at all–power is strength, and giving that strength to others. A leader isn’t someone who forces others to make him stronger; a leader is someone willing to give his strength to others that they may have the strength to stand on their own.”-Beth Revis
Effective leaders are always in control of their teams and their direction, but they know better than to be control freaks.
They understand that great power is being strong for others.
Great strength and leadership are not about not controlling others and making their day-to-day decisions.
It is about giving the right direction and providing proper context and then stepping aside for great work to happen.
4. The Greater Picture: Create A Legacy
“I have three precious things which I hold fast and prize. The first is gentleness; the second is frugality; the third is humility, which keeps me from putting myself before others. Be gentle and you can be bold; be frugal and you can be liberal; avoid putting yourself before others and you can become a leader among men.” – Lao Tzu
Great leaders understand the importance of the big picture. They do not confuse their own personal gains and achievements with the greater good.
“The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men, the conviction and the will to carry on.” —Walter Lippman
Great leadership means allowing the common goal and direction to drive the forward momentum.
“If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, then, you are an excellent leader.” ― Dolly Parton
Great leaders create a legacy.
Great leaders allow you to dream more.
Great leaders allow you to reach the hallowed grounds of excellence.
Great leaders are not intimidated by bright and shining stars. Instead they attempt to be one themselves.
Great leaders allow you to have hope and great expectations.
“A leader is a dealer in hope.” ― Napoléon Bonaparte
5. Hard Work
“The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born-that there is a genetic factor to leadership. That’s nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born.” —Warren Bennis
Effective leaders know that they become great leaders through hard work and through trial and error.
Great leaders understand the importance of habits, structures and focus to accomplish great results.
They do not rest on their DNA or their laurels. Instead, they get busy and get going.
6. Being an Influencer
“Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another.” ― John C. Maxwell
Great leaders can inspire and influence others towards a shared goal.
They lead by example and choose to be magnets and models of influence and inspiration.
“Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.” ― Albert Schweitzer
7. Are You Creating Great Value?
“A leader…is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.”-Nelson Mandela
Effective Leaders focus their time on creating great and authentic value to others.
8. The Importance Of Why Vs. What: Asking The Right Questions
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Simon Sinek, the leadership expert says that great companies and leaders have a clear “why.”
Great leaders promise a template for a great experience and a wonderful feeling.
They keep a clear picture of why something matters. They percolate that feeling and emotion throughout the organization.
The how to do something follows a powerful “why.”
Great Leaders have a penchant for choosing relevant and compelling questions. They choose questions that provide a sense of adventure.
“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”- Peter F. Drucker
9. Passion: The Secret Sauce Of Great Leaders
“You have to be burning with an idea, or a problem, or a wrong that you want to right. If you’re not passionate enough from the start, you’ll never stick it out.” ― Steve Jobs
Great leaders understand that if they are not passionate, it is impossible to get others inspired and motivated.
They carefully pick and choose the most important missions that they are most passionate about.
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”― Howard Thurman
Great leaders know that feigned enthusiasm is without any power. True enthusiasm and passion can move mountains and solve any problem.
Great leaders inspire us to come alive and follow our bliss.
“Follow your bliss. If you do follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while waiting for you, and the life you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in the field of your bliss, and they open the doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be. If you follow your bliss, doors will open for you that wouldn’t have opened for anyone else.” ― Joseph Campbell
10: Avoid Micromanagement
“The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”- Theodore Roosevelt
Great leaders understand the difference between micromanaging and managing well.
Great empowering leadership energizes and inspires. Micromanagement and hovering create anxiety and lack of trust.
How do you choose to lead?
11. Courage To Be A Great Leader
“You get in life what you have the courage to ask for.” – Nancy D. Solomon
Great leaders have the same fears and the same doubts and the same hesitations.
But what they also have loads of is the courage to move forward despite the fears and challenges.
Great leaders also know that courage is a muscle that gets better with practice and is not an all or nothing deal.
They know that small and controlled risks over time increase the risk tolerance.
“Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.” – Peter F. Drucker
Effective Leaders have the courage to etch their unique story in the sands of time.
“No guts, no story.” – Chris Brady
12. Creative Discomfort
“A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.” ― Rosalynn Carter
Great leaders take people right into the eye of the creative and innovation storm. They lead into difficult choices and into the edge of people’s comfort levels.
“Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm.” —Publilius Syrus
They understand that nothing great is ever accomplished by staying in the calm doldrums of experience. They crave and move towards the worthy challenge and the insurmountable problem.
“Leadership is the ability to hide your panic from others”– Lao Tzu
They understand that great problems and challenges bring great meaning to life.
“My job is not to be easy on people. My job is to take these great people we have and to push them and make them even better.” – Steve Jobs
13. Ideals, Principles, and Purpose
“My own definition of leadership is this: The capacity and the will to rally men and women to a common purpose and the character which inspires confidence.” —General Montgomery
Great leadership involves setting down and adhering to principles that are steady and meaningful.
What are some of these great principles:
Kindness and compassion.
Hard work and a culture of work.
Having fun while solving great problems.
Honesty and transparency.
Teamwork and support.
14. Taking Action
“Screw it, let’s do it.” – Richard Branson
Great leaders understand that plans are important but prompt action is where the rubber meets the road. They are unhesitant to move forward and move fast.
They instill in others this powerful ethic of action. They do this by being great models of action and forward motion.
“Do or do not. There is no try.” —Yoda
“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.” —Amelia Earhart
15. Lead By Example And Face The Criticism With Poise
“Not the cry, but the flight of a wild duck, leads the flock to fly and follow.” – Chinese Proverb
Great leaders understand that they model how to lead the entire group by setting examples.
Great leaders set their aim high. They know that their shortsightedness or their vision will set the standard for the entire group.
Great leaders have tempered and shaped their experience through criticism and unfavorable situations.
They know that they cannot please everyone. They choose to make an impact in a niche following instead of trying to make everyone happy.
“A man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd.” – Max Lucado
16. Assemble A Great Team
“No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself, or to get all the credit for doing it.” – Andrew Carnegie
Great leaders assemble great teams around them.
Great leadership is the ability to choose and hire people on the basis of merit and talent.
Great leaders choose to surround themselves with people smarter than themselves.
They have actively conquered their insecurities and issues and are not threatened by talent and greatness. Instead, they actively support and enhance great teams.
They are relational masterminds. They have the uncanny and authentic ability to connect with people and inspire them towards the greater cause.
“Tend to the people, and they will tend to the business.” – John Maxwell
17. The Club of The Forever Learners
“Education is the mother of leadership.” —Wendell Willkie
Great leaders are always learning. Their education is never completely over and they know that being “know it all” is a kiss of death for innovation.
They do not confuse confidence with a cocky and arrogant attitude.
They have perfected that art of confidence while adopting what Stanford researcher Carol Dweck calls “The Growth Mindset.”
I have taken this tip from great leaders to heart. I enjoy, savor and love to know more and learn more.
How you can be a life long learner:
Ask what others can teach you.
Watch TED talks and other interesting videos.
Watch documentaries that enhance your progress.
Read a LOT. Read a book a week if possible.
Try new experiences and visit new places.
Make new friends with people you do not normally associate. If you are an artist, make friends with an engineer and so on.
“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” —John F. Kennedy
18. Chasing Excellence
“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” —Vince Lombardi
Great leaders chose to go after perfection but they have the wisdom to settle for excellence.
They know that excess perfectionism is paralyzing.
They realize that going for excellence is energizing.
They understand that excellence inspires and excessive perfectionism demotivates.
Of course, this is not the same as attention to detail. Having great attention to detail is important but not to the extent that it is paralyzing.
19. The Importance Of Failure
“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” —Michael Jordan
Great Leaders allow for personal and team mistakes. They realize that progress and success are not straight lines but crooked and curved roads.
They make sure that their teams fail forward or learn from their mistakes and get better prepared to deal with challenges.
“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” —Albert Einstein
20. The Power Of Belief
“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” —Theodore Roosevelt
Great leaders believe in themselves, their causes and their teams.
21. Disruptive Innovation
“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” – Steve Jobs
Great leaders encourage disruptive innovation. They know that their ideas and concepts may become obsolete in a couple of years and are constantly pushing forward.
The ability of reinventing and moving forward is the hallmark of great leaders.
An example is that the leadership of Kodak that was almost synonymous with photography did not more forward on the digital advancement.
Their company fell behind as the digital age overran the conventional film-based photography.
Ironically, Kodak was the first company to design the core technology for digital cameras.
“Leaders think and talk about the solutions. Followers think and talk about the problems.” – Brian Tracy
In conclusion, great leadership qualities are not built in a short order.
Great leaders are made over long periods of time and with much effort.
Some people have a better sense of being a great leader, but they still have to work at it.
I hope that some of these ideas and quotes inspire you towards great leadership in your life.
Now over to you. Which idea and which quote best resonates with you? Let me know in the comments below.
“Go to the people. Live with them. Learn from them. Love them. Start with what they know. Build with what they have. But with the best leaders, when the work is done, the task accomplished, the people will say – We have done this ourselves.” ― Lao Tzu