Earlier we listed 10 powerful innovation quotes from our past speakers, and now we do the same for the topic of leadership. Sometimes it’s these simple sentences that can inspire and empower you to get to the next level.
Jim Collins: Leadership Is about People
“Great vision, great strategy, or great opportunity without great people is irrelevant. The first priority, worry, and obsession, if you are building a great company, is around people.”
Jim argues that leaders often focus on intellectual issues rather than emotional issues. And it’s actually the emotional aspects of leadership they should get into. “People are an emotional thing”, and according to Jim, the question of people should be the first thing on the list for every leader.
Carla Harris: Create Other Leaders
“When you take a leadership seat, you should be disproportionately occupied with creating other leaders.”
Carla underlines that people in leadership positions should invest time and effort in creating other leaders. If managers want to amplify their impact and contribution to their company, nurturing other leaders is crucial. For every leader, the essence of their role is to delegate and give others the chance to shine. “If all roads lead only to you, success will be capped because you are only one woman and one man.”
Vineet Nayar: Enthuse, Encourage, Enable
“A leader is in the business of inspiring people to build the best they can.”
Vineet is the advocate of the mentality “employees first, customers second”. He argues that in business, value is created by the employees in their interface with the customers. If this is the case, what is the job of the leaders? If increasing differentiated value to the customer is what drives growth, the job of the leaders can be nothing other than to ”enthuse, encourage, and enable” those creating value—the employees.
Patrick Lencioni: Lead Everyone in Your Team
“Every human being in the world needs management. It might look different depending on their level of responsibility, but they need to be managed.”
Many leaders try to avoid being micromanagers, and as a consequence, neglect managing in the first place. Alternatively, some leaders might think that their people are so experienced that they don’t need to be managed. To Patrick, this is a fallacy. He believes every person needs their manager to know what they’re working on, to help them clarify their priorities, to be up-to-date about their progress, and to coach them if they have problems. “If we think that’s micromanagement, then please by all means be a micromanager. The world is suffering much more in organizations today from a lack of management than it is from excessive micromanagement.”
Brené Brown: Take Down Your Armor
“It’s not fear that gets in the way of daring leadership. It’s our armor.”
In her book Dare to Lead, Brené implies that to succeed in this complex and changing environment we need to change the way we lead. And how? Through research, Brené and her team found that the change needs to come in the form of braver leaders and more courageous cultures. And unlike you could imagine, the greatest barrier to courageous leadership is not fear. It’s actually how we respond to our fear—our armor—that gets in the way.
Simon Sinek: Create a Safe Environment
“When you give people a circle of safety, they will naturally take care of each other, the customer and the company. When you force them to fear, they will naturally take care of themselves.”
According to Simon, organizations need trust and cooperation to function, let alone succeed. And how do you get those? For trust and cooperation to occur, we as human beings need to feel safe. When your employees feel safe, they will naturally combine their efforts and seize the opportunities. On the contrary, if they don’t feel safe, the natural human reaction is to protect themselves from each other. It’s safe to say that you likely don’t want that in your organization.
Randi Zuckerberg: Get Comfortable about Getting Uncomfortable
“Leaders have to just embrace getting uncomfortable. In fact, it is a necessary life skill, if you’re going to be innovating, pivoting, and changing with the times.”
We human beings are generally change-resistant, afraid of failing, and risk-averse. Unfortunately, in the world we live in today, leaders don’t usually have the luxury of avoiding change, failures, and risks. Randi highlights that as this is the case, leaders just need to practice getting uncomfortable—that’s the skill you’ll need. “I have made it a priority of mine to actively seek out situations over the past 15 years that make me a little uncomfortable. Because if I’m uncomfortable it’s going to help me unlock a new creative part of myself.”
John C. Maxwell: Remember that Leadership is a Process
“Leaders develop daily, not in a day.”
According to John, there is a fundamental law of leadership: the law of process. We know this, but we also often forget this; you can’t become a great leader in a day. There are no quick fixes and you cannot do it with the help of one single lecture or book. So, give time for yourself and your development process.
Jack Welch: Focus on Growing Your People
“It’s about growing your people, not you. You grow from the reflected glory of your people.”
Jack emphasized that whilst many leaders want to be heroic and have all the answers themselves, it’s not what leadership is about. He argued that leadership is actually all about making the team flourish. Jack even used the analogy that a leader should walk around with a can of water on one hand and fertilizer on the other and simply sprinkle those over the seeds. Then, you just watch them grow.
Seth Godin: Be a Leader, Not a Manager
“We think that leadership is just a fancy way of saying management, but it’s not. They’re not alike at all.”
The world is changing and, according to Seth, we are not going to be able to manage our way out of it. We need leadership. Seth believes that managers need authority, but leaders take responsibility. Managers follow the agenda, while leaders solve interesting problems even though they are not on the agenda. To put it another way: managers tell people what to do and expect them to do it, while leaders inspire people to follow them of their own free will. So, be a leader.