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8 leadership lessons from history

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/01/8-leadership-lessons-from-history/

weforum.org

8 leadership lessons from history
Napoleon, Empress Wu, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Oliver Cromwell, Akbar, Stalin. History provides many examples of strong leaders who left their marks, for better or for worse. But what the past will not do is provide the magic formula for how to become an effective leader.

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Know When To Step Down

Know When To Step Down

Often leaders have chosen to stay on when they should have bowed out. Without intending to, they often undo much of their own work and cause problems for their successors.

An increasingly frail Winston Churchill should not have tried to be prime minister again in 1951. His government drifted, while his chosen successor Anthony Eden grew increasingly embittered. 

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Don’t Believe Your Own Propaganda

Don’t Believe Your Own Propaganda

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the father of modern Turkey, accounted for his limitations by issuing an order to ignore instructions he gave in the evenings – when he liked to carouse with his friends. But history has far more examples of leaders whose convictions of infallibility grow in proportion to their power, eventually leading to the failure of their plans.

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The Traps That Power Lays

The Traps That Power Lays

A job can subtly warp your judgement so that you only see things from one perspective.

Think of Richard Nixon trying to use the institutions of the American government to shut down the Watergate scandal. Or the unexpectedly long American war in Vietnam.

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See And Ride The Currents Of History

See And Ride The Currents Of History

Effective leaders are able to manage both the day-to-day issues that press in on them and the bigger picture. A knowledge of history shows patterns amidst all the noise of current events and reminds of unusual possibilities.

Bismarck famously said that a statesman “must wait until he hears the steps of God sounding through events, then leap up and grasp the hem of his garment”. And he did that when he manoeuvred across the chess board of Europe to create the new state of Germany.

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Listen

Listen

Choosing good and independent subordinates and listening to them is a safeguard against making bad decisions.

In the Cuban Missile Crisis, President John F. Kennedy insisted on hearing his advisers’ different points of view before deciding how to deal with the Soviet challenge in Cuba. 

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Be a Good Communicator

Be a Good Communicator

That means above all understanding your audience and targeting your speech.

Winston Churchill and Pres. Roosevelt masterfully used their communication skills to prepare and keep their nations in a war that at times seemed hopeless.

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Key People To Keep On Side

Key People To Keep On Side

The people to keep on side can vary: in a democracy, leaders need to worry about who's important in their context.

Bismarck sought to keep a stable relationship with Wilhelm of Germany above all, while the Democratic Party in the USA rose to power by seeking the support of different racial and economic groups.

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You Have To Want To Lead

You Have To Want To Lead

Leading can be gratifying but also lonely. Ambition and the determination to succeed may mean sacrificing friends and family.

Think of how many children of great men have had unhappy lives. That loneliness is why statesmen like summits: they meet those rare others who face the same pressures and responsibilities.

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Voltaire

“History never repeats itself. Man always does.”

Voltaire

History lessons

The most important lessons from history are the takeaways that are so broad they can apply to other fields, other historical times, and other people. 

The point is that the more specific a lesson of history is, the less relevant it becomes.

Adopting new views 

One of the interesting parts of the Great Depressions from history is not just how the economy collapsed, but how quickly and dramatically people’s views changed when it did.

People suffering from immediate, unexpected adversity are likely to adopt views they previously thought absurd. It’s not until your life is in full chaos (with your hopes and dreams your dreams unsure) that people begin taking ideas they’d never consider before seriously.

4 more ideas

What's to gain for Leaders through storytelling?

  • Can keep a consistent focus on the vision of the company
  • affirm faith in the near term intent of the leadership, 
  • strengthen brand loyalty,&nbs...

Two considerations when employing storytelling

  • Invest in a highly competent Director of Communication.
  • Be central in choosing stories.
  • Personally convey your vision in compelling stories.

There are two kinds of historical events to learn from

There are two kinds of historical events to learn from
  • Specific events. Their usefulness is limited to particular events that will not be repeated in the exact same way. What did this person do right, or wrong? What ideas wo...

Calm plants the seeds of crazy

  • Good times often breed complacency and scepticism of warnings. Until 2020, the public assumed pandemics were things of the past. 100 years ago, people had a better understanding of how dangerous an outbreak could be.
  • Carl Jung thought that an excess of something gives rise to its opposite. When there are no recessions, people get confident. Confident people take risks, leading to recessions.

Progress requires optimism and pessimism to coexist

Optimism and pessimism go hand in hand. In finance, we are told to save like a pessimist and invest like an optimist. The short term is full of setbacks, problems, breakages, depressions, pandemics, errors, but if you can stick around long enough, you can experience long-term growth.

The long-run is usually rather good and the short run is normally quite bad. In reconciling the two, we learn how to manage both.