Leaders are everywhere, but they are not only the people managing or leading teams. I’ve known a lot of managers that were not leaders and leaders who didn’t manage teams. Leaders are people that others look up to, trust, and respect. People want to follow leaders because they have a compelling vision. Leadership is influence, not authority or power. John Maxwell, best-selling author, speaker, and leading expert on Leadership, says, “leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less.”
The 6th Annual Fortune World’s Greatest Leaders list was recently released, and the common thread is courage. Risk-taking is essential for great leaders. When you are out front, you have to have the courage to take a stand no matter how many naysayers you encounter. You also have to be willing to take a giant leap even th ough you may not know what challenges you will face.
Bill and Melinda Gates ranked number one. I love this choice! In addition to being bold, the two of them display the following powerful leadership qualities: strong vision, commitment to continuous learning, empathy, and humility.
The second was Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand. Jacinda is a Mom, the youngest female Prime Minister in the world, on the 2018 Time 100 list, and was added to my personal superhero list earlier this year. Her reaction to the Christchurch shootings was a demonstration of what great Leadership looks like: strength, compassion, empathy, integrity, and incredible courage.
Number six is Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old climate activist. Greta staged a strike in late 2018 outside of the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm demanding that the government cut emissions by 15% a year. Inspired by Greta, on March 15, 2019, thousands of students from over 123 countries participated in a Global Climate Strike. How’s that for influence? Oh, and she has 1.4MM Twitter followers!
It may seem hard to see how courage affects leadership ability, but I’ve learned, first-hand, just how important it is. There were many opportunities for new roles and new businesses that came before me throughout my career. Like many women, I thought about my qualifications, and I often thought I may only have 50 – 60% of the skills needed to be successful. Although this made me fearful, most times I plowed full steam ahead anyway. I promise you I was afraid and it was always hard work, but I assure you, I never looked back. Having courage doesn’t mean you are not scared or that you are overconfident, to me, it means that despite that, you move forward anyway.
Who else tops my list? Here are some: Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Jr., Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Malala Yousafzai, Eleanor Roosevelt, Oprah, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and Abraham Lincoln.
Why? Their influence, charisma, determination, perseverance, vision, courage, empathy, humility, presence, integrity, and compassion.
Who do you admire most for their leadership ability? Which of their strengths stand out to you?