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.
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.
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.
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.
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.