15 Lessons Leaders Of Today Need To Learn
Unlock Your Ultimate Leadership Potential
With the elections coming up I felt people were getting lost into the media and artificial portrayal of leaders. I thought we should take a step back and analyze at its core what it means to be a leader through lessons from some of the most influential personalities in history. Moreover, how to implement these disciplines into actionable qualities to unlock the ultimate leadership potential within yourself.
I have complied a list of fifteen incredible figures comprising of politicians, civil rights activists, athletes, entrepreneurs and philanthropists. With each of them I have associated a "Leadership Lesson" that I have learnt from researching their style of conduct and execution. If you are able to instill even one or two of these lessons it will improve your leadership skills and presence exponentially regardless of what field you are in.
1. | Mahatma Gandhi |
- Leaders of today should understand action changes who we are and what we believe is worth doing. We live in a time where a motivating speech by itself is not enough to inspire people to change, however action by a leader will instill such instead. Precedence is the nature of reform, as our leaders are liberated from their own fear their presence will liberate others. You can see this character in all great civil right leaders, by eliminating the fear within themselves, it’s a contagious feeling for one to eliminate the fear within him or herself.
2. | Alexander The Great |
- Leaders of today must learn to follow the ancient Greek proverb, “Make war with a multitude of counselors.” However, lets tailor it to, “Make DECISIONS with a multitude of counselors.” Use resources and people of the best, even with enemies and people who you disagree with, to make truly informed decisions, and never to start a war that you know you are going to lose.
3. | Martin Luther King Jr. |
- Leaders of today must learn to not accept the reality of the world to which we are presented and instead harness the power of society to push forward through social change. We can never know what it's like to be another because we are trapped in our own version of existence. Imagination is its own form of courage, and no one cares about an idea, but they might care about a women or man with an idea.
4. | Winston Churchill |
- Leaders of today have dealt with corruption, but not overcome it. Leaders must learn corruption is by its nature hard to identity and hard to prove. So rather than trying to prove it, learn to change it; purity always discourages inquiry. People want a leader who can give support and give restrictions to keep chaos at bay while learning to divorce the story and marry the truth.
5. | Mother Teresa |
- Leaders of today must learn to be clear; clarity dissolves resistance. If there is resistance by society or people it is because the leader is unclear, not necessarily because they are at fault. Additionally, being unclear leaves room for rumors, which can be noted as premature facts and given media’s influence, can leave leaders vulnerable and licking their wounds.
6. | Che Guevara |
- Most leaders of today shout so loudly into people’s ears who they are that no one can even hear what they are saying. My take on transcendentalist writer Ralph Waldo Emerson's famous quote; our worst fears lay in anticipation, leaders should learn to talk more about calming our anticipation and speaking on a positive dimension on the topic, not who they are and what they believe in all the time.
7. | Napoleon Bonaparte |
- Leaders of today should understand that the town worships success but roots for failure. However, it’s inevitable for any individual to make a mistake at some point no matter how careful they are, so instead of having the mistake as an obstacle and set back, learn to restore order to imagination.
8. | Franklin D. Roosevelt |
- Leaders should learn a lesson from World War II. Major powers from Europe came together to satisfy Nazi Germany by giving Adolf Hitler Munich (capital of Bavaria, Germany), which is widely regarded as a failed appeasement act towards Germany. Basically it means we gave the Germans whatever they wanted to make them happy but it just made them want more. Don’t be Munich.
9. | Nelson Mandela |
- Leaders today should understand dissatisfaction is a symptom of ambition; it is the coal that fuels the fire. Being dissatisfied with things urges change. As the famous proverb goes, ‘A lion doesn’t concern himself with the opinions of a sheep.’
10. | Mao Zedong |
- PR people understand this but can never execute it, but if you don’t like what is being said change the conversation. Leaders of today should learn this to be effective in communication and action. The ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius believed that when it came to leadership there were only two ways to lead to get people to follow you, one is leading through instilling fear and punishment, and the other is through inspiring love and respect. You should decide early on which method works best for you and clearly convoy it with how you talk to subordinates and through the emotions coloring your speeches and presentations.
11. | Abraham Lincoln |
- Leaders of today should learn from Western politics where if we choose liberty over security, we will have neither. Never let gratitude sour into pride. Generosity is its own form of power, honesty is the best defense and offence. Kindness isn’t kindness if you expect a reward in return and image is everything.
12. | Muhammad Ali |
- Leaders of today need a strategy not a plan. Like the renowned and widely celebrated boxer Muhammad Ali said, “Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the mouth.” Plans are short term and near sighted, if the plan does not work then there is no fall back, therefore the leader is essentially leading to failure. A strategy comes with multiple plans, a fall back for each chance of failure and are multifaceted in their approach to a solution.
13. | Tenzin Gyatso - The 14th Dalai Lama |
- Leaders of today need to stop postponing decisions due to ‘searching for inspiration’ for a solution. Inspiration isn't really something that you can sit around and extract from your psyche. Solutions originate from the knowledge you have, if leaders want to be more effective in strategizing solutions they need double down on the strength of their knowledge by learning and reading more and drawing from life experiences.
14. | Steve Jobs |
- Leaders need to be effective and stop procrastinating. Even the laziest kid you know does not procrastinate on playing video games or eating candy. It’s all about what you perceive to be a reward you want. If leaders can change their rewards, it will change their life.
15. | Julius Caesar |
- Leaders of today need to understand that the effect you have on others is the most valuable currency there is. When people disagree with us we immediately think something is wrong with them. Moreover, celebrated psychologist Sigmund Freud says if you don’t like a person its because they remind you of something you don’t like about yourself. So instead of immediately acting upon your initial feelings and thoughts, leaders must realize the significance of their effect on others and be careful in their judgment of people and more accepting of individuals’ opinions.
And a small bonus lesson:
| Muhammad Ali Jinnah |
- Lastly, leaders of today must understand the meaning of bravery is fighting for the freedom of those who you disagree. There is never going to be a perfect situation to do something with your life, greatness is able to work through the handicaps and adversity.