We all dream about hitting it big. Getting a Time 100 profile, selling your start-up, winning a Nobel Prize; there are a lot of ways to be recognized as a top leader among your peers and within your industry. But what does it take to truly become an amazing leader? We examined a few individuals who have shaped the world as it is today and found what inspiration you can take from there. If you’re looking for ways to develop as a leader, hone in on the below qualities.
As the recently crowned Queen of the Galaxy (or, at least, of the Star Wars franchise), Kathleen Kennedy had big shoes to fill. Not only is she responsible for the newfound popularity of Star Wars, but her career as a successful movie producer (on films such as Persepolis, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, and E.T.) has been so because when collaborating with others, she has done what she promised to do. If Kathleen has said she’ll be there, she’ll be there giving 100% of herself to the task at hand. It’s one of the qualities that has defined her, and it’s one of the reasons she was hand-picked to lead Lucasfilm after George Lucas stepped down. A team respects a leader who keeps their word, so by making the effort to keep your promises (even the small ones), you’ll earn the respect of those around you.
Nobody is immune to making mistakes, not even if you’re the leader of your own company and line of products. The next time you catch a stupid mistake, think of Steve Jobs, who knew that with each major innovation came several little mistakes. “It’s best to admit them quickly,” Jobs said, “and get on with improving your other innovations.” Though you may not be developing the newest smartphone, learning how to quickly admit your faults and move on is a skill that will earn you respect from your team and teach you to not dwell on the past mistakes of others. By working on being honest with yourself in little moments, you’ll be able to trust yourself with bigger ones when the time comes.
It’s no secret that Mark Zuckerberg wears the same outfit on a daily basis – it’s one of the reasons we loved H&M’s recent April Fool’s Prank so much! But jokes aside, putting less thought into his wardrobe allows Mark to focus on the more important things in his life – his family and his work. By actively choosing what deserves your attention and what doesn’t, you’ll develop a clearer outlook on your day-to-day operations and on your passions. By putting your effort into figuring out what is most important to you, you’ll learn how to best have a positive impact on your company and team.
Though her husband tends to receive most of the credit, Melinda Gates was first a businesswoman who was able to turn her successes into philanthropy. As the co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, she focuses on what she can do to solve the world’s problems – and there are a lot of them. That’s why Melinda thinks keeping a positive outlook in the face of adversity is crucial. “Whatever suffering we see,” Gates said, “we can help people if we don’t lose hope and we don’t look away.”
Grit is the top determining factor between success and failure and every leader has a hefty dose of it. The ability to handle adversity and high stress is one of the greatest skills of the world’s top leaders. Many people give up when they hit adversity, but successful leaders find one way or another to get the job done. The ability to keep going and outlast the competition is a key factor to success and being a great leader.
“Often it is tenacity, not talent, that rules the day.”
― Julia Cameron, Finding Water: The Art of Perseverance
As many people have said, when the going gets tough – the tough get going. Success takes determination and the willingness to get your hands dirty and do the hard work. No self pity allowed!