Secrets of Great Leaders

“You must first be the change you wish to see in the world” -Gandhi

There have been many good leaders in the world, but few I regard as great, however at least a few come to mind: MLK, Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Mandela, Churchill. Each took up a cause of action that was greater than themselves. They put the cause first, they did not bow down to their critics, they inspired followers to take up the cause, and they had the vision to see what they wanted to accomplish in all its glory and started on a plan to get there. Their real skill was in inspiring and mobilizing their followers and in their ability to influence those that didn’t really think like they did. Here are a few other things that seem to work:

  • Focus: say no to everything that isn’t a “Hell Yeah!” and focus on Force Multipliers
  • Your process for information flow is critical: who or what is keeping you from getting the crucial info you need…especially the negative news. Remove those filters
  • Proper delegation… two key elements:
    • Focus on results, not methods
    • Push down decision making to the lowest common denominator
  • Properly balance management and freedom: give the freedom to achieve, but keep a watchful eye
  • Perseverance: there will be delays, setbacks, even failures
  • Set expectations that inspire others to achieve: tell them you have faith they will do great things…they will do all they can not to let you down
  • Accept failures and mistakes as long as they are learned from… public praise, private criticism
  • Dig down deep into your organization looking for pods of talent… protect and cultivate these people
  • Humility: listen and accept criticism. A bunch of “Yes” men/women is a recipe for disaster
  • Be willing to be on the front lines with your team (not just to show you are part of the team, but so you also know what is really going on without filters)

There are a million thoughts on what makes a great leader, but these work for me.

“Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can and should be and he will become as he can and should be” -Goethe

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