“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” — John Quincy Adams, Sixth President of the United States
“Leadership: The art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” — Dwight D. Eisenhower, Thirty-Fourth President of the United States
Next Monday is Presidents’ Day. While we normally (and rightfully) associate the day with George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, it honors all US presidents, past and present, who all had their own ideas about leadership.
You don’t have to be the leader of the free world to make a difference. Your employees and colleagues look to you for guidance, support and vision. They trust that you always have their best interests – and the best interests of your company – atop your priority list.
The eternal question is whether great leaders are born or made. Many think – as I do – that the raw materials of effective leadership, such as inquisitiveness, empathy, collaborativeness and decisiveness, are within us, but often need development. For thirty years now, our friends at Valley Leadership have been bringing those traits out of people in both the private and public sectors, and our communities are better for it. Our own Valley Young Professionals group is also a great place for the next generation of community leaders to get together for mutual support, exploration and service.
Washington guided a young nation through its initial steps on the world stage after the conflict that gave it life. Lincoln shepherded the country through perhaps its darkest hours and sought to “bind up its wounds.” While they faced challenges you and I can only imagine, we all have times when vision and action are necessary to get the job done.
Our state and our business community needs leaders now, from our elected officials to executives to the operators of businesses large and small. We’ve come through tough times and are poised to take the next step towards long-term prosperity. It will take strong leadership for us to get there and to stay there.
From the Oval Office to the corner office to the home office, some principles remain constant: leaders listen, they empower, they consider options and they act decisively. As President Andrew Jackson said, “Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in.”
When your time for action arrives, I hope you’ll go in, too.