We aren’t born great leaders; it takes time and often many mistakes before we rise to the top. Most great leaders of the past didn’t reach great accomplishments without overcoming big challenges. For example, the ancient Greeks tell us that nothing is more important than good leadership for the harmonious functioning of society, and nothing hurts more than the lack of it.
Today, we look to the examples of our past leaders in hope to emulate their characteristics to lead successful organizations and corporations. Our society is faced with much more difficult issues than those of the past, so it’s no walk in the park. Forbes says:
“We face the most serious financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s and foreign policy issues that if left unsolved could bring us to the brink of nuclear war. Rising new powers in the world today, such as China and India, are changing traditional Western ways of conducting worldwide politics and business.”
To push through these difficult times, we need leaders who aren’t afraid to go the extra mile. History is a great place to find leaders who possessed extraordinary skills, enjoyed incredible success, and guided societies that experienced troubles similar to our own. Leaders with sound principles are what each past generation has benefited from and what we need for a prosperous future.
Past leaders that made history probably didn’t know that they would be used as foundations for success. The historical figures below unknowingly gave us the following leadership tips to move forward and succeed.
Consideration and Humanitarianism
Nelson Mandela is remembered as a beloved leader and an extraordinary human being. “He stood for something very simple, which was for equality and fairness,” said David James Smith, author of the biography Young Mandela: The Revolutionary Years. Instead of creating chaos after being in prison for 27 years, all Mandela wanted was to create peace. As many know, his lifelong goal was to overthrow pro-apartheid government. Mandela spent his life focusing on how to help others in a peaceful and humble way. He spread positivity with his smile and envisioned a big picture far greater than just himself.
Aspiring leaders of today can learn a lot from Mandela:
- Always put others before yourself with the “bigger picture” in mind.
- Approach every situation with a confidence, positive attitude and smile.
- Lastly, when you think something—especially something that was well planned—won’t work, have patience that it will.
Mandela wasn’t perfect, nor is any human, but his approach and outlook are what people remember him by.
Commitment and Persistence
Many people remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as an American activist and humanitarian for the African-American Civil Rights Movement, but it was his determination and observation that let him succeed. What was a time of disorder and unease in the country, King was able to witness and find ways to help unify the nation.
The March on Washington was possibly King’s most important accomplishment, where he led 200,000 followers to protest racial discrimination and gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. The march was an unprecedented success that gave people hope and belief in the democratic process. King committed his life to non-violence and equality for all. King didn’t just deliver his message to the masses, he dreamed big and delivered even bigger.
Aspiring leaders of today can learn a lot from King:
- Be persistent to lead and change others.
- Never give up on fighting for what you believe is right.
- Always commit to do more—go above and beyond your business goals.
- Lastly, pioneer change and don’t hesitate to inspire others.
He is remembered for always staying persistent in his end goal and seeking out new directions.