15 things history’s greatest leaders have taught us

Know what you are willing to stand for unabashedly, uncompromisingly
As a Marine, General James Mattis’s leadership philosophy was “State your flat-ass rules and stick to them”, In other words, “Know what you will stand for and, more importantly what you won’t stand for”

Leaders are Readers and thereby good Learners
Harry Truman said leaders are readers but not all readers are leader – Pay attention to and take heed from other peoples mistakes and your own too. We cannot rely on education and all positive experiences, it is our difficult experiences that bring the growth we need to create more positive out comes.

Leaders Exude Good Energy
no problem so bad that we cannot make it worse” said the astronaut Chris Hadfield. Leaders must be a source of good energy and a solution mindset. They must make every effort to make hard things simpler/easier through micro-steps towards solutions and demonstrating continuous positive progress through successes and learning.

Leaders handle chaos through continuous preparation
When under pressure, you do not rise to the occasion, you sink to your level of training” is one of my most favourite statement and comes from an anonymous Navy Seal.
Success in anything is determine by how well we are prepared for that moment.
Phil Jackson, the legendary coach explains why he made some of the Bulls’ practices chaotic: “Not to make their lives chaotic but to prepare them for the inevitable chaos that occurs the minute they step onto a basketball court”

Staying calm and composed is a default leadership state
Napoleon once said that “The first qualification of a general is a cool head“. Remaining cool headed in the times of crisis and adversity is one of the most critical skills of leadership, even at the expense of perceptions that making it look easy. Marcus Aurelius said that everything must “be approach with due consideration, in a calm and orderly fashion”

Serving others is what leaders live for
Offering to help without asking is a servant leadership trait wrongly mistaken as sub-servient instead of being of “service to others”. While Eleanore Roosevelt said “No one can you feel inferior with your permission”, she also said that the surest way to happiness was to seek it for others. It is how she became one of the most influential female activities in history. She thought less of her problems and tried help others with theirs.

Leaders have both high personal standards and Sets High Standards for others
NFL Coach Bill Walsh has his “Standard of Performance” – he turned the worst team in the NFL into the Super Bowl champions in just 3 years thorough building a culture of up-holding high standards. He knew that “the score would take care of itself

Leaders Persist with a big “P”
No problem goes away or gets resolved on it’s own. The genius is often persistence in disguise. Long haul leadership is for the ones who don’t give up. As the famous and one of a kind Margaret Thatcher did: “You turn if you want to. The lady’s not for turning“.

Leaders truly listen to feedback, not for lip-service
Marcus Aurelius’s greatness against his son Commodus’ fatal flaw is a famous leadership lesson. Marcus listen to the many mentors he surrounded himself with. He left his best advisors for his, “but their suggestions and counsels were all rejected by Commodus”

Leaders have strong guiding principles and a True North mindset
Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Caroll’s story of continuously losing to winning is an inspiring one. After 15 disappointing seasons, it dawned on him that he had no real philosophy or principles. After he nailed down his as “Win Forever” philosophy, he won two National Championships and a Super Bowl. I love his current philosophy “Always Compete@PeteCarroll

Leaders Prioritise Openly and Ruthlessly
Angela Merkel is a great example of a grounded leader. Her biggest asset is her simplicity, modesty and unpretentious way of being. Just plain and simple.

Leader Stands Out, Stands Tall – Easily Spotted
People are like threads in a garment, said the Stoic Paconius Agrippinus. Most are trying to blend in with other threads. The leader’s got to be the “red” thread he said, “that small and brilliant portion which causes the rest to appear beautiful”
Who is Pacobnius Agrippinus?

Doing the right thing is the leader’s motivation, Always
Warren Bennis, one of the pioneers of contemporary leadership studies, was fond of saying, “The manager does things right; the leader does the right thing.”
Example of history: When the Antonine Plague hit Rome, Marcus Aurelius sold off palace furnishings to help those in need. In a crisis, people must trust that their leaders are doing the right thing and bearing the same burden as the citizens—if not a greater one.

Leaders take time to be absent of voices
The many leaders I look up to and learn from afar have one commonality and that is that they have at least one hobby that gives them a few hours to quieten their mind and enjoy solitude.

Fastest acceptance of reality
Pandemic is an ongoing example on how the leaders who accepted it the fastest and focused on making the needed adaptations over debating the brutal facts of reality, throve and continue to thrive amidst the biggest odds of life mankind has every witnessed.

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