Showing posts with label History. Show all posts
Showing posts with label History. Show all posts

Tuesday 26 April 2022

6 Characteristics of Great Leaders

From around the world and across time, great leaders can give us example to realize our own potential. From politicians to captains of industry, from around the globe, from antiquity to today, this article will discuss leaders and the six great qualities that made them great.


1. Focus and Self-Control


Martin Luther King Jr. was a 20th century civil rights leader in the United States. At a time when disparaged racial groups were denied liberty equal to those around them, many considered anger and even conflict to be the only productive approach. In this atmosphere, King, a preacher, captured the attention of the country by preaching peace and non-violent protest. 


That isn’t to say that King never felt anger. While presenting a calm but charismatic face to the public, those who were closest to him say that King was every bit as made as more destructive leaders of the time.


King’s dedication and even anger gave him focus but it was his self-control that allowed him to spread a message of peace that resonated with a larger audience and eventual won the day.


2. Integrity


Another great leader of American History was George Washington. A hero of the war that won America’s independence from Britain, Washington became America’s first president.


In a time full of great leadership, many of Washington’s contemporaries said that Washington’s greatest strength was his strong character. 


Some recent historians have since chosen to stress Washington’s faults, none argue that his strong decision-making abilities and integrity helped to forge Washington as a leader and America as a country.


3. Well-Rounded Interests


The small country of Prussia formed out of the dissolution of larger empires. As such, it was difficult for the country to make a name for itself in a rapidly changing Europe. Frederick the Great, a 17th century Prussian king, helped to shape the small nation, which would last as a world power until the early twentieth century.


Frederick is called “the Great,” but he is not remembered for his greatness as much as for his broad interests and even wider court. While his father was interested primarily in military matters, Frederick took interest in more cultural affairs and surrounded himself with knowledgeable ministers. By finding interests beyond his early education and making friends with a panel of experts, Frederick was able to shape the country into a cultural center of early-modern Europe.


4. Charisma


Ronald Reagan was an American president during most of the 1980s. A series of disastrous military conflicts abroad was well as a changing global economy left America reeling. The “Cold War” -- a series of escalations and proxy wars between America and the Soviet Union – had most Americans living in constant fear and confusion.


Like any politician, Reagan has his critics. However, the former actor’s charisma allowed him to strengthen America’s confidence in its goals providing a sense of national courage and motivation.


5. Dedication


Regularly appearing on the list of the greatest leaders of all time, Winston Churchill is remembered as being the Prime Minister of England during the second World War.

What fewer people know, however, is that Churchill first made a name for himself in British government in 1905 and continued in politics until 1955.


While Churchill has many of the leadership qualities that have been discussed in this article, it is dedication that allowed him to rise in power, to stay in power, and be widely supported and loved by his countrymen during a lifetime of political activity.


6. Innovation


Other than being great leaders, everyone on this list so far has one thing in common: they are dead.


Many of history’s great leaders have become our national heroes. However, we now live in a time just as dynamic as any before us. We have a whole pantheon of living heroes to look up to.


Most of today’s great leaders are characterized by an innovative and inventive spirit.

No matter where you live, or what your field of business, history and the living world around us offer many encouraging figures of great leadership.


Leadership vs. Authority

To Define Leadership


To lead is to show the way. It is to guide the actions or opinions of others, and to direct in a given course. (Websters New Riverside University Dictionary, 1984) 


A leader is an individual who guides or leads. The person in charge or command of others, the head of a political organization or social group, and an individual who has power and influence are all potential leaders with assigned or earned authority. 


Leadership is the skill of leading. Actual leadership requires the ability to motivate and inspire others. It is not dependent upon a tangible source of power, and is so much more difficult to define than this. 


It’s different from its synonyms.


Many organizations and people confuse those who they put into positions of power or authority with their leaders. Leaders shape our social structures, organizations, communities, and our nation. We tend to look to our leaders for guidance, and influence. 


The one concept we most often confuse with Leadership is Authority. In talking about Authority, there are different types: 


• Traditional

• Rational-Legal

• Charismatic


Traditional authority is dependent upon established tradition or order. We follow and adhere to traditional authority because it’s passed down through the generations. In cases of traditional authority, we yield to it because it’s the way we’ve “always done” something. Adults and children who question this type of authority, and Rational-Legal authority, are often accused of displaying something like Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). This is because the act of questioning authority is often seen as an aberrant behavior. But, generally, if we do question authority for some reason, it’s Traditional and Rational-Legal more so than Charismatic. 


The source of power in a charismatic ruler is the trust and faith followers will give to the authority. The trust and faith are worship based, and we follow charismatic rulers because we want to appease them. Keep in mind, that there are examples of Charismatic Leaders who’ve used their position and authority to do some awful things: Jim Jones, and Adolf Hitler. Unfortunately, we are much less likely to question a charismatic authority figure who we love, and who we’ve chosen to follow, than a traditional authority figure who was thrust upon us based on tradition or rationality. 


Then we have Rational-Legal authority figures who derive their power based upon our vote. We elect these figures. Their elections anchor their legitimacy because we’ve put them in positions of power. Rational-Legal authority figures must possess some amoutn of charisma to begin with, or we wouldn’t be willing to follow their lead and interpretations of how we should behave within society.


Rulers and Leaders


A good leader is generally an individual who has been entrusted by their people to lead them for some purpose. In rational society we have a well-established practice of electing our Rational-Legal authority figures. Generally, we willingly hoist these individuals up into positions of power because they are charismatic, and we put our faith and trust in them. When a ruler seizes power in society, our lives, or in our professional environment, we often question their legitimacy until they prove their worthiness. 


Authority is simply the right to command, enforce laws, or exact obedience. There are plenty of men and women who are now and have been in positions of power and authority. 


  • Your boss
  • Kim Jong Un
  • Joseph Stalin
  • Donald Trump
  • Your parents
  • Your kids’ soccer coach
  • A high school principal
  • The Librarian

Also, there are individuals who have been and currently are Leaders who hold no rational-legal, or traditional authority. They’re leaders because they’ve proven their willingness to sacrifice for their cause, to give of themselves for our benefit, and lead the way to help us realize their ideal future. We have worshiped and loved these leaders, so we accept, or have accepted, their guidance. 


  • Emmeline Pankhurst was a social reformer who founded the Women’s Social and Political Union. Suffragettes followed her unquestioningly because she was a charismatic leader, a powerful orator, and endured 13 imprisonments for the sake of her cause. 
  • Martin Luther King Jr. was an activist and a leader in the Civil Rights Movement. He endured personal attacks, and loss for the sake of equality. 
  • Marie Curie founded the science of radioactivity. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, and the first Person to win a second Nobel Prize. 
  • Rosa Parks refused to surrender her seat to a white person. She challenged race segregation in American and her protest sparked the Civil Rights Movement. 
  • Nelson Mandela spent 30 years in prison. He was a leader before he was an official authority figure in South Africa. 
  • George Washington was our country’s first president. Before that he was given real authority to lead the colonies armies against England in our Revolutionary War. Soldiers followed him because of his ability to lead, and unflinching integrity. 


A good leader can motivate her followers regardless of the institutional power she may or may not have been assigned. To be considered a leader among your subordinates, a manager must be able to encourage and inspire his employees and peers. Any authority fighter must have the respect of those she intends to lead to be an effective leader. 


Authority and Leadership


There is a difference between a boss and a leader; a President and World Leader; a Pope and a beloved Leader; and a Parent and a Leader. Understanding that Leadership is derived from the respect you’re able to garner, not the position you’re assigned is the single most important thing any leader will address first.


An office manager, boss, Senator, President, Queen, Parent, or High-School principal may have worked very hard to achieve the position in their organization, political party, or household that they now have. However, there is a difference between commanding the respect of the people who follow you willingly, and demanding respect from subordinates who find you weak, wishy-washy, demanding, or narcissistic. 

True leaders, as world history has borne out, command the love, respect, and admiration of their willing followers. 


Accountability: A Key Function Of A Great Leader

Accountability is defined by Merriam-Webster as “ obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one's actions.” This trait of taking responsibility has been and will always be a key function of a great leader. The reason for this is taking accountability is not an easy thing to do. It is easy to claim our actions that have positive outcomes. 


But when something we do results in negatives, it can be tempting to not accept responsibility for it. Being accountable also involves holding others accountable. 


When others make mistakes or are not moving in the right direction, it is the responsibility of great leaders to hold those individuals accountable for their actions. It might be hard or embarrassing to address these faults, but a great leader pushes through and accepts responsibility regardless. 


Throughout history, the best and greatest leaders have shown accountability.


One great example of this is Eleanor Roosevelt. Throughout her life, including but not limited to her time as the first lady, Roosevelt worked hard to bring equality to all people and hold those in power accountable for this equality. discusses her many achievements and actions. 


“During World War II (1939-1945), Roosevelt advocated on behalf of European refugees who wanted to come to the United States. She also promoted issues that were important to American troops, worked to boost soldiers’ morale, encouraged volunteerism on the home front and championed women employed in the defense industry. She also pushed for the continuation of New Deal programs during the war, against the wishes of some of her husband’s advisors...Eleanor Roosevelt famously resigned from the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) when it barred African American singer Marian Anderson from performing at its Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C.”


Using her political position, Roosevelt made sure that all people from refugees, to troops, to women were getting what they needed. Roosevelt continued to do this in many other ways such as getting more women federal positions and holding press conferences for female reporters. 


She also supported the civil rights movement. Because of this support, in the 1960s a $25,000 bounty was put on her head by the KKK. 


Later in life, Roosevelt became a part of the U.N. in the first U.S. delegation. During this time, she gave the speech “The Struggle for Human Rights.” This speech urged for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to be passed. Roosevelt also served on the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and was part of the Peace Corps, in addition to the U.N.


Roosevelt is an example of a great leader who showed accountability.


As the first lady, she had the most power a woman could really have in the United States at that time. She used her position to make sure that everyone else was being treated equally and fairly. She held her husband and his associates to a high standard. She held clubs and organizations to a high standard too.


When they didn't meet her expectations, she worked to change them. While previous first ladies had used their position to be the white house’s hostesses, Roosevelt used it to help create equality for everyone in the country. 


Being a leader is hard but being a great leader is incredibly difficult. When we see someone throughout history or in current events doing a good job leading, it is smart to observe what they are doing and why. 


Roosevelt lifted up the people who were the lowest on the totem pole. She held those who were in power to higher standards. She is a great example of why a key function to being a good leader is accountability.


Learn From Great Leaders: The Benefits Of Having An Open Mind

For every individual, no matter their position, there are benefits to having an open mind. For leaders, there are definitely benefits as having an open mind allows them to become better leaders. One example of a leader who made changes to his viewpoints is Abraham Lincoln. 


Lincoln is considered a great leader of the United States because of what he accomplished while he was president. He issued the Emancipation proclamation and granted freedom to slaves. He also helped start the rebuilding of the country after the civil war. 


Although he helped give United States’ slaves their freedom, according to, he wasn’t always so sure on the proper course of action. “Abraham Lincoln did believe that slavery was morally wrong, but there was one big problem: It was sanctioned by the highest law in the land, the Constitution...he didn’t know exactly what should be done about it within the current political system.”


Over time, he realized what had to be done. Although there were many reasons for freeing the slaves, he gave them their freedom even though it went against the Constitution, something that had been previously very problematic for him.


Lincoln learned to expand his beliefs by having a more open mind. There are many benefits that he received because of his changes of beliefs and having an open mind. Because of Lincoln’s actions, he is highly regarded for starting to pave the path for equality for African Americans. Lincoln is featured on the United States’ currency and there are multiple memorials dedicated to him. 


Throughout the rest of Lincoln’s presidency after the end of the civil war, he continued to change in his thinking in actions and become more and more accepting of African Americans and their place in the states. If Lincoln had not had an open mind and had stuck with the Constitution, he would not be the revered man that he is today.


Although it can be hard to have an open mind and to look at opinions that are different from yours, there are many benefits to it. 


Seeing multiple angles and sides of things allows you to be a better leader. 


If you can relate to your people and understand how they feel and what they think, you will be able to better serve them. Those following you will be much more willing to sing your praises if you are able to help them in the way that they need. 


Are you having trouble having a more open mind? It’s all about attitude. You need to allow yourself the opportunity to open your mind. Opening your mind doesn’t mean immediately changing your beliefs. Instead, you are looking at all the facts and alternative opinions. 


You are not immediately disregarding anything that doesn’t fit with what you think. Instead, consider these other ideas and compare them to your own thoughts.


It is very easy to remain close-minded and stick to our old thoughts and beliefs.


But this world is ever-changing and it needs us to change with it. As a leader, it is important to understand these changes, even if you don’t agree with all of them. The people you are leading might relate to these changes or be a large part of them. 


Being able to connect with them or understand where they are coming from is extremely important. Just like Lincoln was able to adapt and make changes for his people which lead to wonderful things for the United States, other great leaders around you will do so as well as they utilize their open-mindedness. 


Learn From Great Leaders: The Benefits Of Responsibility And Dependability

Responsibility and dependability are two things that carry a lot of weight. When you are responsible for someone or something, you are the overseer of it. It is your job to take care of it until that responsibility is shifted away from you.


When you are dependable, others can count on you to keep your word and follow through with your actions. While these two things require a lot of work and effort, they also come with some benefits. A quick look into history can help demonstrate the benefits that came with the addition of responsibility and dependability for one man.


Before the United States was its own country, it was a group of states that was still ruled by Great Britain. During this time, George Washington was starting his life on his own. He began his military experience by serving and being a commander in the French and Indian War.


Years later, he ended up becoming an integral part of the Revolutionary War through his previous military experience and political position. After being named commander in chief of the Continental Army, he began the long task of gaining independence for the states. discusses Washington and his history. It says that “Washington proved to be a better general than military strategist. His strength lay not in his genius on the battlefield but in his ability to keep the struggling colonial army together...His leadership during the winter of 1777-1778 at Valley Forge was a testament to his power to inspire his men to keep going.” When the war ended, Washington was declared a national hero. 


After signing the peace treaty, Washington gave up his position and returned to his home, excited to get back to his crops and plantation. However, the new country had different plans. 


Washington had become so popular during the war that he was the first choice for the new presidential seat. He eventually took the position and served two terms as president. After serving as president, he finally returned to his home where he lived the rest of his life, dying just a few years later at 67 years of age. 


Throughout Washington’s life, he carried a large amount of responsibility and showed his dependability. 


Because of how well he led the soldiers to victory and independence, he was given the benefit of the first choice for the presidential seat of the new country. Had Washington done poorly during his time in the war, this would have not been the case. 


Because of this, he is now a highly regarded individual in the United States. As the first president, his face is on our currency both paper and coin. There are many buildings and other monuments dedicated to his name. He is celebrated on his birthday every year and he is studied in all history classes. 


While being the first president wasn't what Washington originally intended to do with his time after the war, it ended up being a great reward for his hard work during the war as well as providing an increase in responsibility that has led to him being so revered.


While taking on responsibilities and being dependable in your own life will probably not lead to monuments being built in your name, there are benefits to showing and acting on these good qualities while you are leading. 


Washington is just one of the many examples of great leaders who show that you reap what you sow. When you put in the work and take your position seriously, good things will come out of it. 


The Best Leaders Thrive Through Struggle And Adversity

It is easy to be a leader in the good times. When there are no problems or conflicts there is nothing challenging you or forcing you to change and grow. However, the best leaders are able to thrive through struggles and adversity. 


A great example of a leader that thrived in struggles and adversity is Nelson Mandela. 


The website discusses his life and influence. Mandela was a great leader in South Africa who worked to help the country get out from under the previous government’s hold. He was very involved in the country's politics and he consistently worked to begin the necessary changes. He helped with protests, strikes, and led an armed struggle.


For his actions, Mandela was jailed multiple times with the final time being for twenty-four years. Once he was finally released, he immediately threw himself back into the political field. 


Four years after leaving prison, Mandela became the first democratically elected president of South Africa. “I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” Quote by Nelson Mandela from his speech from the Dock on April 20, 1964.


A large part of what made Mandela such a great leader was all the troubles his country was going through. If there had been better leaders in power, he might not have gotten into politics or made it as far as he did. 


Even after being in prison for a large part of his adult life, every time he was released, he would be in the midst of things once more, attempting to make positive changes. Mandela's motivation to make things better for his people was his driving force but the trials that he went through only amplified his results. 


In your own life, you will witness many leaders. Most of them will go through struggles and adversity. Some of the problems will be because of their leadership position while other issues could be caused by personal or other problems. The best leaders will thrive and make it through these tribulations while the weaker leaders will not. 


In your own life, while you are in the midst of troubles, it can be very tempting to quit or give up. 


However, consider those in your life who need you to be strong and continue on. Your family, friends, and coworkers rely on you, to some degree. If you are in a leadership position, it is especially important that you continue on. Use the tribulations to your benefit. Allow them to inspire you to keep working and press on harder.


When looking at history, the most revered leaders were noticed in times of trouble. Wars and other political problems help bring out the best leaders to the foreground as they deal with problems that have possibly never occurred prior to that moment. 


Mandela is a great example of this. In different circumstances, he might have been just a normal guy. The world might have never known his name. 


Life will always provide difficulties and new problems.


The best thing to do is to keep moving forward and working hard. Look at the leaders in your life and see how they deal with struggles. What do they do when new problems arrive? Some people have more experience with handling difficulties but it can always be good to see what others would do in your place and how to strive through struggles and adversity.


Strategic Thinking 101

Being strategic is all about planning ahead, focusing on your goal, and taking steps to get to it. It is important to consider all angles and their possible negative outcomes. Being prepared for anything to go wrong and having a few backup plans is always helpful. 


By focusing on strategic thinking, you are making a strategy to get to an end goal. Throughout history, some of the most revered strategic thinkers were political or military leaders. Some examples of some strategic individuals include Julius Caesar, Genghis KhanNapoleon Bonaparte, and Jeff Bezos. 


Let’s consider an example to explore strategic thinking. You are a high school student and you are planning to sell cookies at the school bake sale. You want your cookies to be the preferred choice and sell more than any other item. Now that you have a goal, you need to get your strategy together. 


Consider your assets. You need to have good cookies. If your cookies only look good, you might get some sales but no return customers. In order to have good cookies, you need to either make or buy good cookies. 


This means that you might be spending some time improving your cooking skills by taking classes, seeking out a tutor, and practicing. Not only do you need to know how to bake them, but you need good ingredients. By buying very good baking products, your cookies will taste better. Once you have determined the best time to make the cookies before the sale, your assets are covered. Now to consider the next part.


Consider your consumers. What type of cookies are the most popular amongst the students and staff? If you cook some really great oatmeal cookies, but no one likes oatmeal, you won’t get very many sales. Do some research to figure out what product might be best. You can ask your peers or have them sample a few of your cookies to see what they like. Take their preferences into consideration. Once you know what cookies they like, you need to market. 


If the bake sale is not already well marketed, you will need to help it out. It is very hard to sell cookies if no one is there to buy them. Putting up some flyers, talking about it to your friends, and posting on social media is a great place to start.


Bring a few sample cookies around and inform everyone who tries them that more can be purchased at the sale. As you finish preparing for the sale, you could consider your competitors, your presentation of the cookies, how to handle rescheduling dates, and more. Now you are ready to sell those cookies. 


In the previously explored exercise of bake sale cookies, there are many things to plan out and many steps to take in order to increase the possible positive results of the high school baker. This is just a small-scale glance into strategic thinking. 


Napoleon Bonaparte’s strategizing was most likely very different from Jeff Bezos.’ Every situation will be different when coming up with a strategy but every part of it is based around planning and action. Strategies involve having set ideas in place that can be followed in certain circumstances.


When coming up with your own strategy, make sure to consider all angles. You are forming a road to your goal and you want to make sure that you get there. Anticipate your opponent’s moves, plan for reactions, and counterstrategies.

Take plenty of time to think through your plan and ideas. Don’t rush or get distracted when working on your strategy. With plenty of time and practice, you can become a master at creating strategies. 


Monday 28 March 2022

Meat Tradition

How did our family traditions get centered on consuming meat? Consider it. When we consider Thanksgiving, we consider turkey. If we consume pork, then New Year’s celebrations frequently revolve around pork and sauerkraut. At Christian Easter, the traditional meal is ham. And in the summertime, we wait for that 1st hamburger or steak on the grill. 


How did that occur to a species that was designed to eat veggies and fruits, nuts, berries and legumes? 


We may imagine that eating meat was at the start an opportunistic event, born of the need to survive. The taste of cooked meat, plus the prolonged energy that came from eating high-fat meat products made primitive sense even to earlier man.


At the start, finding cooked animal meat, from a forest fire, would have been cause for jubilation. It’s something everybody in a clan would have participated in consuming together. When man learned to hunt and moved to a hunting preference, instead of a hunter-gatherer orientation, he would have done this in groups. They'd have had to hunt in teams, and killing an animal for nutrients would have been a group attempt. Hunting and killing an animal meant food not simply for the individual, but for the clan, and would have been cause for festivity when the hunters brought the food home. 


If they fetched the animal back to the clan, it would have taken a group effort to skin the animal and tear or cut the meat from the carcass. Everybody would have taken part in this, and subsequently, shared in the payoffs of their work. 


It’s simple to see how, once we didn’t have to hunt for meat, but could buy it, the need for gathering and festivity was deeply ingrained in our natures. We observe the seasons and life’s events with loved ones and friends, and as those early celebrations involved eating meat, that tradition has kept going to modern times.