From Alexander the Great to Genghis Khan, great leaders have walked and ruled this planet throughout human history. These days, boardrooms have replaced most battlefields, and great leaders are more likely to flex corporate muscle than wield an actual sword. The Internet gives us all a chance to be great leaders; these are the skills they embody.
1. Great leaders manage fear
As Franklin D. Roosevelt put it in his inaugural speech, we have nothing to fear but fear itself. Superman has superpowers, but he’s no hero. Superman is invincible and therefore has nothing to fear. A real hero acts in the presence of fear.
2. Great leaders put the mission first
You have a job to do, and, whether you like it or not, you have to put that job first. Great leaders recognize that completing the objective is the most important part of the mission and let nothing stop them from accomplishing it. Everything else is just extra perks.
3. Great leaders are well-prepared
No matter what situation they find themselves in, great leaders are always prepared. They may not immediately have the tools available or the right answer, but they know where to find it. Thinking on their feet is important, but a great plan can’t be beat.
4. Great leaders are tough, but fair
Great leaders inspire greatness in their followers as well. They do this by holding them to the same high standards they hold themselves to. They understand everyone is human, though, and don’t expect the impossible.
5. Great leaders encourage others
Nobody wants to work for that boss who bosses everyone around and has no idea what he or she is talking about. Instead of constantly criticizing people, great leaders believe in positive reinforcement and are loved by their followers.
6. Great leaders effectively communicate
The reason you have an Apple product is because Steve Jobs knew how to communicate to you exactly why you need one. The ability to communicate is essential in convincing people to do what you want, and that’s how a leader gains followers.
7. Great leaders use resources wisely
Are you broke? If you are, it’s because you live a lifestyle that leads to being broke – you waste your current resources and are too busy fighting to replenish them to ever get ahead. Great leaders use exactly the resources they need.
8. Great leaders imitate other leaders
Thomas Edison idolized Leonardo da Vinci, and nearly every military leader in the world to this day follows the strategies of Alexander the Great. To be the best, you have to beat the best. If they’re already dead, emulate them.
9. Great leaders are great followers
Behind every great leader is an even greater leader. As Derek Sivers, CEO of CD Baby, explains, the first follower is the most important part of a movement. A leader without a follower is just a lone nut.
10. Great leaders remain open to change
Even the best plans have issues as soon as they’re applied to the real world. A truly great leader accepts this and is able to change at a moment’s notice. While all the losers complain about a new change and wait for instructions, a great leader takes the lead.
11. Great leaders never give up
Every winner loses, but not every loser wins. Great leaders accept losses and learn from them. Then they get back up, dust themselves off, and try again.
12. Great leaders accept responsibility
When something goes wrong, a coward will blame others. It’s not uncommon for stuff to roll downhill in an organization, as every level passes the buck to the next level beneath them. To be a great leader, it’s essential to accept responsibility for mistakes and correct them.
13. Great leaders are quirky
All great leaders stick out in some way. If they acted like everyone else, they’d end up following like everyone else. Instead, they listen to themselves, trust their abilities, and rise to the top.
Anyone can be a leader, but what makes a leader truly great are their followers. If you live as though you’re already a leader, you’ll be well on your way to becoming one. You’ll be an outcast for a period, and people will mock you for being different, but stick to your guns. Soon enough you’ll have the power to hire or fire your detractors, and there’ll be nothing they can do about it, because you’re a great leader… and they’re just a shlub.