Good leaders know that one of the many keys to becoming a great leader is to study exemplars. And in a start-up environment great leadership is critical because you need to motivate your employees to go the extra mile and do 2 jobs at a time. Here are some tips from some of the Greatest Leaders in History….
I came, I saw, I conquered. — Julius Caesar
As the best known ruler of the Roman Empire which was, at the time, the largest Empire in the history of the world, Julius Caesar’s skill at leading his nation remains without parallel. this classic quote, which is even pithier in Latin — Veni. Vidi. Vici. — expresses the directness which great leaders have. These three latin words cut to the absolute chase of what he did as Caesar. As you communicate with your team, you can not only channel Caesar’s directness, but also the confidence with which this statement is imbued.
An optimist sees an opportunity in every calamity; a pessimist sees a calamity in every opportunity. — Winston Churchill
Great leaders are positive. Winston Churchill, who faced Nazi Germany as an opponent as he led Britain into World War II, rallied his troops with his positive attitude. Although being positive may seem similar to being confident, a quality which Churchill also had in spades, there is a crucial difference between the two qualities. Once he fully understood the nature of the damage, the captain of the Titanic was confident that his ship was going to sink, but there was no optimism in this realization. Churchill faced down a brutal air attack from Germany and remained sure that Britain would survive and thrive. When your business hits tough times, take a minute and find the opportunity on the other side of the crisis.
Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future. — John F. Kennedy
Imagine when the CEO of Smith-Corona saw his first Wang word processor, and when the CEO of Wang saw the first personal computer which could run a word processor and other software. Kennedy, who presided over the nation for just a few short years, saw that change would bring a New Frontier, and set the country up for both the passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 as well as the Apollo program. In today’s fast-paced globalized and social-media-connected business world, leaders must embrace change as a constant and as an opportunity.
I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people. — Mohandas Gandhi
Without firing a single shot, Mohandas Gandhi created a nation where once only a colony existed. He was able to do this in large part because he was able to convince millions of people to follow him, because he understood the importance of relating to the masses that he led. The day of the “mushroom manager” who keeps his or her team in the dark and feeds them manure is long over. Leading as the first among equals, as opposed to segregating yourself, will help you to better manage, and lead, the knowledge workers which make up so much of today’s workplaces.
Being direct and confident, optimistic, ready for change and on your team’s level is not always going to be enough. You will also need to inspect what you expect. Ronald Reagan became known for this belief due to his quoting of the Russian proverb Doveryai no proveryai to Mikhail Gorbachev at their summit in Reykjavik, Iceland in 1986. He knew that trust worked best with some checks and balances, and this principal applies to today’s team environments. Ultimately, you are responsible for the results of your team, and you need to ensure that they are doing what you expect them to.
Tips are great but being a good leader takes practice and education. If your organization needs training on leadership we recommend taking a leadership training seminar from Exec|Comm, the AMA or American Management Association and the great Dale Carnegie. It is one of the most important things a business owner can do because a cohesive motivated organization always succeeds.
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