Lessons in Leadership: Part 1

Amid the clamour of voices telling us to do this or that, the clarity of inspiring leadership is a rare thing indeed.

While few would consider themselves perfect as managers, so many leaders fall short not due to any lack of talent, but simply because they do not actively seek to nurture their skills or try new approaches.

In the first of our blogs on leadership style we consider the significance of inspiration, education and courage in the eyes of great leaders and commentators.

Inspire

The best leaders dare to reach higher and further, to dream bigger and achieve to a greater degree. On a day-to-day level this can be one of the most valuable attributes a manager can possess – that ability to guide with an empathetic heart that makes team members go above and beyond.

Walt Disney: “The flower that blooms in adversity is the rarest and most beautiful of all.” The American film producer’s drive to reach the light during the darkest days plays out in almost every film that bears his name. This winning spirit is a continuing source of inspiration for Disney fans young and old throughout the world.

Eleanor Roosevelt: “Do something every day that scares you.” An American political leader and First Lady from 1933 to 1945, suffragist Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was a passionate advocate for civil rights who knew that progress depends on stepping out one’s comfort zone on a daily basis.

Education

It takes a wise person to swallow hubris, hold up hands and ask, “How do I do this?” This can be especially difficult if you’re meant to be the one in charge, but that’s what the best leaders are able to do more than most. The result? Honest, open, high-speed learning and achievement. Being open to learning is the classiest path to getting ahead, so always ask questions. Besides, no-one likes a know-all.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy: “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” The value of education was key to the 35th president of the United States, one of the nation’s most charismatic and popular leaders.

Nelson Mandela: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” An anti-apartheid revolutionary, the process of Mandela becoming South Africa’s first black prime minister served as a humbling lesson in leadership spirit to the rest of humankind.

Be Courageous

Sometimes the way forward will be clear, sometimes it will be obscured. Other times there may be no way forward, but the strong leaders create a path nonetheless, because they simply will not accept defeat. Creating progress from nothing feels daunting, but for leaders who have the vision and energy to achieve in this way, there’s no better way to motivate others.

Karen E. Quinones Miller: “When someone tells me “no,” it doesn’t mean I can’t do it, it simply means I can’t do it with them.” Beyond denouncing failure as unacceptable, the best-selling US author’s view acknowledges that naysayers standout as surplus to requirements to your team that’s destined for success.

Richelle E Goodrich: “What you perceive as a failure today may actually be a crucial step towards the success you seek. Never give up.” Here, the widely published author encourages us to take strength and see the value of events that force heads to drop. Staring at defeat’s stone on the floor is a grim prospect, but over time, once you have mastered that defeat, picked it up and considered it, you may find its underside was lined with gold all along.