Leadership is one of the most interesting things in the world. Think about it, how does a person become a leader? It’s not their birthright, and it’s definitely not their education. So what makes them great leaders in the first place? You can find some of the answers when you get to ask these leaders what they think the definition of leadership is, and sure, they may all have different definitions for it and that’s why we need to take a look at a few of the definitions to draw a great conclusion on what all these great leaders see leadership as.
So let’s start with Michelle Obama.
We all know her as the first lady to Barrack Obama, but did you know that Michelle is a great leader in her own right? It’s true! She’s now known as not only the first lady, but also the role model for women in addition to being an advocate for poverty awareness, education, nutrition, physical activity, and healthy eating. Michelle believes that leadership is about confidence and decision-making. This really shows if you’ve been following Michelle for the past few years, you’ll know that she’s very vocal about the things that she believes in and you’ll know that she will fight for the causes she believes in. This not only shows that she really does mean what she says and it falls perfectly with what she believes what leadership is for; to inspire future generations.
Next up is Jack Ma.
You may know him as the CEO and founder of Alibaba, the Chinese conglomerate which is pretty much Amazon’s counterpart in China making Jack not only the richest man in China, but also one of the richest in the world. So with all of that behind him, you might be wondering what leadership is to him. A quick background search and you’ll realize that Jack is not someone who came from money but his rise to being one of the richest men in the world did not change his view on leadership. Often telling his employees to “never give up” these are the few words that will tell you, more than anything, of Jack’s leadership style as he invests heavily in his employees, and to pass on his philosophy of unrelenting dedication. This is, in fact, the reason behind his success. Because he never gave up, Jack always tries to find a way to improve himself and find creative ways and dedicate himself to eventually reach the heights of success that he has now.
And then there’s Facebook’s COO, the one and only, Sheryl Sandberg.
Serving as the Chief Operating Officer of one of the world’s biggest tech companies, Sheryl Sandberg is no stranger to leadership, having previously been a part of Google’s sales and ad team from a mere 4-man team to a whopping 4000 by the time she left Google for Facebook in 2007. Her leadership skills are among some of the most revered in the world, as a matter of fact, it was her very inspiring leadership style that led Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg to think of her as the perfect fit for the COO position at Facebook. Sheryl is famous for defining the goal of leadership is to make others better as a result of your presence. She goes even further to say that you also need to make sure that that impact lasts well beyond your absence as well. This shows that her philosophy in leadership is not so much to dictate where things should go, but rather, more about inspiring others to become better versions of themselves and to make sure that the change lasts even if she’s not in the room.
Another great figure is Albert Einstein.
Known worldwide as one of the smartest people in history, he is most known for his theory of relativity and how it still affects our lives even now after he’s gone. Being a great leader in his own right, Einstein is known to define leadership as being someone who, out of the clutter, brings simplicity out of discord, harmony, and out of difficulty, opportunity. This quote really shows what Einstein values in leadership, namely, the ability to navigate through the rough and tumble and out of the uncertainty of the situation, bring about opportunity for those around them.
Our next example comes from perhaps one of the greatest, most revolutionary leaders of our time, Martin Luther King himself.
Known best for his “I have a dream” speech, King was not only one of the boldest leaders to have risen during our time, but the impact of his leadership and bravery can still be seen and felt even today, 53 years after his untimely passing. King was a revolutionary figure and his beliefs and the causes he had fought for so bravely is what paved the way for the advancement of not only African-Americans, but also everyone else around the world, essentially making his dreams of an equal world where no one is judged based on the color of their skin, but rather, the merits that they possess, a reality. He believes that leadership should never resort to violence, and that respect and honesty are what we should be spreading to everyone around us, no matter which side of the coin they’re supporting.
Another revolutionary figure we’re looking at for inspiration even to this day, almost 60 years after his untimely departure, is John F. Kennedy himself.
This man was not only one of the greatest leaders of his time but also one that we still hold as one of the greatest of all time. Not only did he have a great affinity for activism, but also created the Peace Corps which still helps people around the world by providing international social and economic development assistance. Kennedy was a big advocate of education which you can tell through his actions and his words, famously saying that leadership and learning are indispensable to each other, Kennedy wanted to push people to embrace education and looking at it as a means of enlightenment which helps create great leaders rather than financial or political backing.
Another figure is known to be directly linked to Kennedy himself is none other than the people’s princess, Princess Diana herself.
Known more fondly as lady Di, the people’s princess is known best for her stance on the use of landmines, where, to draw attention to the dangers posed by these devices of war, decided to walk through a landmine site in Angola herself. This is often cited to be a crucial reason for the Ottawa treaty where the use of landmines is then banned. Lady Di’s leadership philosophy has always been open-mindedness, trustworthiness, patience, and intelligence, all of which can be seen through the way she navigates tough and complicated issues with such grace.
Yet another great historical figure is none other than the 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln.
Best known for his role in the abolition of slavery, Lincoln believes that great leaders are those who possess great emotional intelligence, empathy, accept criticism, advice, and inspires trust. We now know these qualities as some of the most idealized qualities of a leader, but during his time as the president, Lincoln was a great picture of someone with those qualities, something not all of his predecessors would come to possess.
Last but not least is Brian Tracy.
Known as the top-selling author who has published over 70 books, Brian is one of the world’s most celebrated public speakers to date. He believes that there are 7 qualities that great leaders have, namely; vision, courage, integrity, humility, strategic planning, focus, and cooperation. You can also clearly see how these qualities are present in all of the figures mentioned on this list.