6 Powerful Quotes on Leadership and Character Builders around them

Stars that shine brightest quote

“Now there are five matters to which a general must pay strict heed. The first of these is administration; the second, preparedness; the third, determination; the fourth, prudence; and the fifth, economy.”  Wu Ch’i (430-381 BC)

We can learn a lot from leaders in different fields of work. Upon reading the above quote, I found it interesting that ‘economy’ came 5th and last on the list. As a leader one realizes that economics or making of money, while it has a role to play for success, is not often the most important factor in the leadership equation. What comes first is building and influence, making a difference, touching lives, and getting results. Coincidentally, I wrote about this about a week ago – read here.

“The task of leadership is not to put greatness into humanity, but to elicit it, for the greatness is already there.” — John Buchan

Great leaders have a knack for inspiring and bringing out the best in those they interact with and come across. Because such great leaders know and realize that “greatness is already there” as we are reminded by John Buchan, their goal is seldom to change, control or “fix” others. Instead, if allowed, they “elicit” or draw out and magnify the greatness that already exists.

“How so?” One may ask. These great leaders are naturally able to: 1) Mirror the greatness of others back at them such that they can see themselves as gifted and talented, and be inspired to take next level steps; 2) Ignite the fire of others’ passions so that they can realize their purpose and become confident in living their dreams; 3) Bring out the hidden best in others through encouragement, self-awareness and by building them up.

Great leadership thus requires of us to be able to recognize the unique strengths of individuals (e.g. partners, team members and other associates) and help them further develop from a position of strength.

“Leadership must be based on goodwill. Goodwill does not mean posturing and, least of all, pandering to the mob. It means obvious and wholehearted commitment to helping followers. We are tired of leaders we fear, tired of leaders we love, and tired of leaders who let us take liberties with them. What we need for leaders are men of the heart who are so helpful that they, in effect, do away with the need of their jobs. But leaders like that are never out of a job, never out of followers. Strange as it sounds, great leaders gain authority by giving it away.” — Admiral James B. Stockdale

Wow… what a profound leadership quote. You may need to read the quote one more time in order to properly digest it. Great leadership is not about having power and wielding it to control people. It is not about being the center of attention and taking all the credit. Leadership is about giving these away to others (mainly through empowerment, recognition, and encouragement), because when the team shines, the leader shines. The crux of what Admiral James Stockdale tells us in the above leadership quote is that the greatest leaders so powerfully empower and transform men that these men rise up to be significant, extraordinary…and independent. And the leader is no longer needed. But they will always be needed because their influence is indispensable. Great leaders produce leaders, not followers.

leadership quotes

“Men make history and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.” — Harry Truman

There is always an opportunity to help make a difference where you are. Once you’re able to see beyond yourself, you will find that you can be that change agent that helps create better tomorrows for your family, at the work place, and in the community in general.
It is only “a job” when all that matters is what you can gain for yourself. It is impressive leadership when most of your focus extends to what you can do for others and how you can better impact their lives.

“You don’t lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case.” — Ken Kesey

A great leader is always found in the trenches, where the work needs to be done – actively pursuing goals and inspiring others to do same.
Leadership is a continuous cycle of giving and service. Do not feel despaired at how much energy and effort you have been putting out, keep doing it and your efforts will compound to produce the kind of success that legacies are made of.

“Leadership is not magnetic personality, that can just as well be a glib tongue. It is not “making friends and influencing people”, that is flattery. Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to higher sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.” — Peter F. Drucker

A leader challenges others to be better, to reach for more, to stretch themselves further and to most importantly get out of their comfort zones and do something they never thought themselves capable of.

This post is dedicated to all who work hard and put in long hours for a greater good.

Cheers to your success!

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