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The Depth of Leadership

Categories: Leadership Presence

At the surface level, a leader is merely one who leads others. That sounds pretty simple, so what’s all the fuss about? Yet, at the same time, leadership can reach into and transform every aspect of a person’s being. Are great leaders born, or made? I’d say the answer is probably a bit of both.

Perhaps great leaders are born, perhaps they are shaped by their life experiences and the times they live in. And perhaps they can be coached, mentored or trained, to bring out the skills and qualities that, once fully embodied, will make them great.

Having founded my own company and managed it for over three decades ago, I have always been interested in both the concept and practice of leadership. Leadership is a quality/skill/practice that I am still learning more about all the time. And that is as it should be.

Since I do find leadership a deep, ever-intriguing and inspiring topic, I wanted to share some well-known leaders’ musings on the topic to demonstrate that depth.

I’ll start with the woman who has gone further into the “boys club” of American politics than anyone else, Hillary Clinton.

Hillary Clinton: "My feeling is if you're going to be a leader, you have to carefully assess where people are and where people want to go."

And how about this one from the first and only female Prime Minister of England...

Margaret Thatcher: "Any leader has to have a certain amount of steel in them, so I am not that put out being called the Iron Lady."

And one more great quote from another former First Lady.

Rosalynn Carter: "A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don't necessarily want to go, but ought to be."

Here are more terrific leadership quotes, from political and business leaders:

Martin Luther King, Jr.: "A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus."

Nelson Mandela: "It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership."

John Quincy Adams: "If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader."

Sir Winston Churchill: "The nation will find it very hard to look up to the leaders who are keeping their ears to the ground."

Peter Drucker: "Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to high sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations."

Ralph Nader: "I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers."

General Douglas MacArthur: "A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent."

Have you ever read anything about leadership that opened your eyes, your mind, or your heart to your own potential? Do you believe you could ever become a great leader?

Who are the leaders you admire, and what is it about them -- what leadership quality do they possess --that speaks to you?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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