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Jumpstart Your Year: Leadership Advice from the World’s Top Leaders

shared from NCBA |

We’ve all heard the old cliché that leaders are born not made, and the debate about nature vs. nurture rumbles on and on, but what are the essential ingredients of an effective leader, based on the experience of those who have trod this path successfully and often publicly? What advice can real leaders from around the world offer to those who want to improve their leadership skills and career prospects?

Well, according to Donald Trump, internationally renowned business magnate and media personality, the first quality which a leader needs to possess is ambition. Donald tells us, “I like thinking big. If you’re going to be thinking anything, you might as well think big.” Mr. Trump has certainly held true to this goal when it comes to his business empire. With a much debated net worth of anything from $2.9 billion to $7 billion, the global brand name that is Trump can be seen associated with a vast array of enterprises – from financial to restaurants to online travel.

But while it’s quite right to think big, focusing on what it is you want to achieve is also key to success, and that is where we come to the second essential element – vision. President John F Kennedy once said that, “Effort and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.”

Sometimes a leader is the only one who can see what that purpose is and determine the direction which others should follow. Ralph Waldo Emerson, the 19th century American essayist, lecturer and poet summed up this quality with the following,
“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

So, we’ve got ambition and vision, but what next? Passion is the next ingredient which we will examine. Head of the worldwide Virgin brand, Sir Richard Branson believes that,
“There is no greater thing that you can do with your life and your work than follow your passions – in a way that serves the world and you.”

But even the best leaders cannot achieve great success on their own – and they know that. Inspiring the team around you is vital if you are to achieve your objectives – and not just inspiring them but recognizing that it is your job to make the most of their talents. Jack Welch Jr., who headed up the General Electric Group from 1981-2001, saw this developmental aspect as crucial. He sums up this position, “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” Mr. Welch certainly put this philosophy into practice during his 20 year tenure at GE – with a rise in the company value over that period of 4,000%.

So to sum up, global leaders and great thinkers tell us that to get ahead in the leadership game, you need to think big, have a strong vision followed through with strategic direction, to feel passionately about what you are doing and to motivate and develop those around you. Learning from prominent leaders is always advisable, however it is important to pursue an education that will give you a strong background such as a Master’s in Organizational Leadership as well.


A final thought from former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, reminds us that we also need to believe in ourselves as leaders. The Iron Lady, as she was known, and Britain’s first and only female head of Government once said, “Being a leader is like being a lady, if you have to go around telling people you are one, you aren’t.”

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Simon Sinek: How Great Leaders Inspire Action


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