Oliver wendell holmes, the great Supreme Court Justice, once said that there are three types of people. There are people who make things happen, there are people who watch what's happening, and there are people who haven't the slightest idea what's happening.
In this book, we're going to talk about leadership in action and about the people who make things happen
There is a need for leadership in our society. There is a need for leadership in our homes, in our business organizations, in our private and public associations, and in our government. We need leadership more than ever before. And especially, we need leadership to take us into the future. We need people who have vision and courage, people with the ability to chart new seas and break new ground.
We need two types of leaders. The first type is the most important or foundational: the transactional leader. The transactional leader is the person who gets things done with and through others.
The second type of leader that we need is the transformational leader. This is the leader who is the path maker. This is the leader who is the visionary. This is the leader who motivates, uplifts, inspires, and empowers people to perform at levels far beyond anything they've ever done before.
The reason we need leadership so badly in our institutions, and especially in our businesses, is because the people working in today's businesses and institutions are far more difficult and demanding, far more analytical, and more selfish than they have ever been before.
It's no longer enough just to give someone a job and to tell the person what to do. People want to participate. They want to discuss their jobs. They want regular feedback on their performance. They want to know, “What's in it for me?” Today, more and more, when individuals go out to look for a job, they adopt the attitude, “Why should I work for you?”
One of the major reasons people go to work for any organization is because of the leadership. There are two great definitions of leadership that I like, especially with regard to business organizations. The first is this:
Leadership is the ability to elicit extraordinary performance from ordinary people.
Another definition is:
Leadership is the ability to get followers.
Today, leadership that comes from position or from money or authority (what's called ascribed leadership) is short-lived. The only kind of leadership that is lasting is where people decide that they are going to follow the direction, the guidance, and the vision of someone else. In other words, it is the voluntary form of following that marks our best leaders today.
Leaders Are Made, Not Born
I've been studying leadership for many years. I started when I was a teenager, and the first leader that I studied at length was Hannibal of Carthage. I read book after book about the Punic Wars, the capabilities of Hannibal's elephants crossing the Alps, and the battles against the Romans. He was able to take a very small force, mold it into a powerful fighting force, take it thousands of miles, and almost defeat the greatest empire of his time.
After that, I studied Scipio, the general who defeated Hannibal. I studied the life of Napoleon and Wellington at great length as well, to understand the differences between the two men. I've also studied Washington and Lincoln and Generals George Patton, Dwight Eisenhower, and Omar Bradley, who were some of the great leaders of their time.
What I have found is that leaders are made, not born. Nobody comes into the world a natural leader. Even Alexander the Great studied (from the age of eight) to become a leader.
Study the Greats
The study of great leaders of the past and present is one of the fastest and surest ways to develop leadership qualities. The more you study what constitutes effective leadership, the more likely you will be to internalize the same values and behaviors. These values and behaviors will then be externalized in your actions and in your results.
Abraham Lincoln wrote, “That some have succeeded is proof that others can as well.” Bertrand Russell, the great philosopher, agreed, writing: “The very best proof that something can be done is the fact that others have already done it.”
Think about the men and women you know of who are leaders that you admire, and then begin to think about how you could emulate their behaviors. Think about how you could be more like them And lo and behold, over a reasonable period of time, you actually begin to absorb their qualities and become a leader yourself.
The Story of Alexander
The story of Alexander the Great is very instructive for anyone who aspires to a high leadership position. By the age of fifteen, Alexander was convinced that it was his destiny to conquer the known world. He had a vision of uniting all mankind in a common brotherhood. With Aristotle as his teacher, he studied and prepared himself for many years. He learned the military arts from his father and his father's best generals. He saw himself as a great king and had an unshakable belief in his ability to achieve any goal he ever set for himself.
Alexander was brilliant at both administration and execution. He showed great judgment in delegating and appointed the right officers in the right positions at the right time. He was able to plan, organize, think through, and execute brilliantly.
At the Battle of Arbela, he led his 50,000 men in a full frontal assault on the one-million-strong Persian army and routed them He never entertained the possibility of defeat. He had complete trust in himself, in his men, and in their ability to overcome any difficulty, no matter how great the odds against them
Alexander, like all great leaders, had the ability to organize his men and inspire them to exceed anything they had ever done before. He had the ability to concentrate on his strengths and to focus on the critical areas that were essential for victory. His life and history are an example of the blending together of all the great leadership qualities that have been identified in every study on the subject.
See Yourself as a Leader
In the introduction, I expressed the idea that there is a spectrum where, at the very bottom, we find people who haven't the slightest idea what's going on (and couldn't care less), while at the very top there are the one or two percent of people in our society who really are the spark plugs in the engines of change. Every one of us is on that spectrum somewhere, moving up or down, depending on the things that we are doing and saying on a daily basis.
If you want to be a leader or a better leader, remember that it's all up to you. It's in your hands, or, even more important, in your mind. You are what you think you are. Your self-image determines your performance. You can become a much more effective leader by changing your self-concept—the way you think about yourself as a leader.
It all begins with the Law of Cause and Effect. It is the basic law of the universe; all other laws in the fields of mathematics or any of the sciences are subsets of this law, which says that for every effect there is cause. Nothing just happens. The implication of this law is powerful. It means that the success of every person has a cause or causes. So, if you want to be as successful as someone else, if you want to emulate successful people and how they acted and what they accomplished, then find out what they did and do the same! Do the same things successful people do, over and over again, and eventually you will get the same results.
A related law is the Law of Belief. It states that if you believe in something with conviction, what you believe in will become your reality. Or to put it another way, you are what you believe you are. Philosopher William James said, “Belief creates the actual fact.”
The purpose of this book is to enable you to become a leader — and if you are already a leader, to enable you to become a more effective leader. I'll do that by describing to you some of the qualities, attributes, and behaviors of the most effective leaders in our society so that you can emulate those qualities and make them your reality.