Leadership is a tricky thing.
Is it innate or learned? Who needs it the most? What traits define a strong leader? The fact of the matter is that everyone needs leadership. Entrepreneurs and business leaders of all industries must have sound leadership abilities. Even if you have a strong team driving your business forward, it won’t get you anywhere without the proper leadership, guidance, and principles.
Even if you don’t currently hold a managerial title, an affinity for leadership is likely to take you far in your career. Maybe some leaders are born, but the rest of the population must learn and grow throughout their careers. The transformation into an effective leader doesn’t happen overnight — it takes various experiences and often the guidance of others.
Not everyone has someone directly influencing their transformation into a better leader. This is why I find quotes from some of the most influential leaders to be beneficial to the process.
1. “To lead people, walk beside them … As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence. The next best, the people honor and praise. The next, the people fear; and the next, the people hate … When the best leader’s work is done the people say, ‘We did it ourselves!” — Lao-tsu
2. “Leaders must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them.” — John Maxwell
3. “Dictators ride to and fro upon tigers which they dare not dismount. And the tigers are getting hungry.” — Winston Churchill
4. “Control is not leadership; management is not leadership; leadership is leadership. If you seek to lead, invest at least 50% of your time in leading yourself—your own purpose, ethics, principles, motivation, conduct. Invest at least 20% leading those with authority over you and 15% leading your peers.” — Dee Hock, Founder and CEO Emeritus, Visa
5. “All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common: it was the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time. This, and not much else, is the essence of leadership.” — John Kenneth Galbraith
6. “If a rhinoceros were to enter this restaurant now, there is no denying he would have great power here. But I should be the first to rise and assure him that he had no authority whatever.” — G.K. Chesterton to Alexander Woollcott
7. “The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been.” — Henry Kissinger
8. “The task of leadership is not to put greatness into humanity, but to elicit it, for the greatness is already there.” — John Buchan
9. “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” — Dwight D. Eisenhower
10. “The best is he who calls men to the best. And those who heed the call are also blessed. But worthless who call not, heed not, but rest.” — Hesiod, 8th Century BC Greek poet