Probably the most sought after and highest paid talent or skill, in American business at least, is leadership.
However, leadership is not limited to business alone. The need for leadership, whether in the military, government, education or religion, develops whenever it becomes necessary for someone to assume responsibility.
Whatever the profession, the title or the task, the leader must be able to inspire others to follow.
Some say leadership is a combination of strategy and courage. These words describe a finished product. The development of this finished product involves continuous study and self-examination.
Leadership is very personal: It starts with you.
"Know thyself" — just two little words, were painted on the wall back of the pulpit, in a country church my mother attended with me in tow. As I grew older, they became more meaningful and became two of the most important words in my vocabulary. Self-examination won’t always be a pleasant task.
What are some of the important words and actions necessary to develop leadership?Individuality: Be yourself. Develop the traits and habits that you feel most comfortable with and make them a part of your being.Think: T. J. Watson, the founder of IBM, had this one word, in caps, placed on placards everywhere on company premises. It worked well for him. Develop your memory and the thinking of positive thoughts will become habit.Learn: Never stop learning. Develop a natural curiosity and learn everything you can, no matter how insignificant it may be at the time. You'll be amazed in later life how important it may become.Be a generalist: Permit your curiosity and learning abilities to develop general knowledge of various activities. Generalist knowledge is the principal tool of the entrepreneur.Desire to achieve: Achievement is the driving force behind the budding entrepreneur. It is not money. Most wealthy, self-made individuals will tell you that success of the endeavor was the object of the labor, not money. They will often add: "Money often flows to those who achieve."Intuition: Henry Ford's success was said to be his powers of intuition — his ability to defy logic as others saw it. Some people call it: "gut feeling." Don't be frightened by it. Use it.Honesty: Here's where your instincts come into play. We are born with a sense of right or wrong. Practice it.Education: Surprisingly, formal education, other than the ability to read and write played little or no part in most of the industrial development in history.
The Industrial Revolution, which began in England around the 1820s, started with mechanics and artisans with no formal education.
England's colleges and universities of the day were institutions of letters, not science. The trades and industry were considered beneath society of the day.
In America, most early business and industrial pioneers were without high school diplomas and most had eighth grade education or less.
Included in this group were Ben Franklin (who had no formal education beyond the age of 10); Andrew Carnegie (founder of U.S. Steel); Thomas Edison (greatest American inventor in history, who at 12 was printing his own newspaper on a moving train where he sold the copies for his livelihood); Milton Hershey, (founder of Hershey chocolates but a failure up to age 40); the Wright brothers (bicycle mechanics and first to fly an aircraft); David Sarnoff (founder of RCA, had an eighth grade education); and Louie B. Mayer (a junk dealer at 12 who became head of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer). The list goes on.
Native born ability took the place of formal education.Never fear failure: The fear of failure defeats many who would otherwise be successful leaders. Most successful people will tell you they never feared failure.Never quit: Give the objective your all to the bitter end. Your determination in failure may be the inspiration for another to succeed. That's what fills record books.
Learning all the foregoing lessons will no doubt help you with your strategy.Courage: Courage of your convictions is often the term used. Before you can convince others, you must convince yourself that your idea or strategy is worth pursuing.
President John F. Kennedy's statement: "America will land a man on the moon before the end of the decade," was made with conviction. We all know the results.Respect: The one word the world recognizes as a commanding term in the arena of leadership is respect. Knowledgeable leaders, over their entire careers, work to develop the character of self-respect and respect for others.
Commanding respect inspires others to follow leaders into situations threatening life itself. History remembers them.
Those leaders who must order others to follow fail within time and are lost to history.
E. Ralph Hostetter, a prominent businessman and agricultural publisher, also is a national and local award-winning columnist. He welcomes comments by e-mail sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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