What it means to be a great leader

A deep dive into the best examples for leadership
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After WWII, leadership theoretical models stemmed from research based on military leaders and their followers. This was mostly funded by the GI Bill that helped many soldiers pursue academic degrees. The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 (P.L. 78-346, 58 Stat. 284m), known informally as the G.I. Bill, was a law that provided a range of benefits for returning World War II veterans (commonly referred to as G.I.s).

The G.I. Bill offered many opportunities for both scholars and military leaders alike. Military and corporate leadership may merge today. For example, Eisenhower, a military leader and one of the former presidents of the United States in World War II, provides lessons for leaders in today’s organizational challenges. Eisenhower effectively led both American government and the Allied Forces in Europe in defeating Adolf Hitler.

Hitler has been posited as a charismatic leader as he converted many brilliant people to follow him but the difference with his leadership style is that he represents the “Black Hat” of leadership. A leadership status that is not only a failing platform but one that represents destruction as opposed to innovation and expansion. Barring the Hitler-type charismatic leaders, there is hope for leadership at the political level. Eisenhower argued that successful leaders must care for their people as individuals, always remain optimistic, and place themselves with and for the people.

From a corporate standpoint, Steve Jobs fundamentally built a different corporation that still prospers today.

A good leader can turn a weak business plan into a success, but a poor leader can ruin even the best plan. One example of this comes from CEO Rich Teerlink, who dramatically changed Harley-Davidson in the 1980s. The success of leadership at the Harley-Davidson Corporation has stood the test of time. For example, Harley-Davidson’s leadership created a more effective organization built upon three primary principles, focusing on people, challenging norms, and continuing to fundamentally change. At Harley, every employee can participate in leadership decision-making.

As leaders attempt to manage people they find that intellectual capital is the in the forefront of success—Bill Gates, as a great leader, once mentioned that if he lost his top 50 people that he would not have an organization anymore.

Leaders develop organizational communications aimed at providing valuable resources for all organizational members. They enhance knowledge sharing among intellectual capital and stipulate knowledge to be shared around the organization. This can enable companies to actively respond to environmental changes, which can in turn enhance performance at all levels of the organization.

Corporate strategy can be also employed by great leaders, such as Jeff Bezos, to enhance goal achievement. Leaders find that corporate strategy is the in the forefront of success. Corporate strategy could be the most important component of success in this ever changing business environment of today. This, by far, is why some organizations are successful and some are not.

The key take-away for executives is that corporate strategy is a resource that enables organizations to create value through improved performance. Executives that implement corporate strategy as an important driving force for business success find their organization to be more competitive and on the cutting edge. Thus, the effectiveness of corporate strategy implementation is determined by a set of critical success factors, one of which is the strategic dimension of leadership. And the burden of success when the implementation of corporate strategy is concerned is heavily dependent on the capabilities of the company’s leaders.

Therefore, the outcome is success which narrows the gap between success and failure and this can be achieved by corporate strategy implementation and facilitated by an executive following Jeff Bezos and acting as a great leader.

This article attempts to blend scholarly concepts with real world application through thoroughly looking at the best examples for leadership. Executives can now see that great leaders can in fact make a fundamental change in the processes by which companies serve their clients. And success can be more effective when leadership is applied to change attitudes and assumptions. Without a grasp on this one tenet executives are bound to fail.

Photo Mostafa Sayyadi works with senior business leaders to effectively develop innovation in companies, and helps companies—from start-ups to the Fortune 100—succeed by improving the effectiveness of their leaders. He is a business book author and a long-time contributor to business publications and his work has been featured in top-flight business publications.

Categories: Business Insights, Management & Leadership