Making Things Happen
A leader's vision may or may not be that different from the next person's; what can set them apart is the vigour with which they pursue that strategy.
Zhou Enlai served as premier of the People's Republic of China and throughout his life relentlessly pursued his moderate and pragmatic agenda while attempting to mitigate the worst effects of Mao's policies.
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Elizabeth Garrett Anderson defied the medical establishment to practice medicine as a woman in a time it was considered unacceptable. She found loopholes in the law and painstakingly assembled the necessary qualifications, eventually becoming the first woman to receive a medical degree.
Take the offensive simply by not taking no for an answer; by accomplishing what we have set our hearts on in the face of entrenched opposition.
Changing the mood of an organization can be enough to stave off collapse and foster progress.
Nelson Mandela changed the mood of a divided South Africa coming out of the brink of civil war and facing a future with a high likelihood of inter-racial conflict. Once elected, he ran the new multiracial government with a light but decisive touch and set the tone – relaxed, inclusive, cheerful – that would create a new mood in the country.
Horatio Nelson suffered multiple permanent wounds leading attacks. That’s how he gained the unquestioning loyalty of his men.
Taking a hard or unpleasant task is leading from the front.
Leaders need to have a relatable and understandable long-term view of where an organization is headed.
When faced with the issue of slavery before the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln’s vision was that the United States should be “a nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. "
Pointing out others’ mistakes rarely encourages them to change their behavior, and it certainly doesn’t help them learn anything. People aren’t driven by reason, but by emotion; so a public critique is far likelier to reflect poorly on you than it is to make them change their ways.
Abraham Lincoln was nearly forced into a duel for criticizing an opponent. His new policy became one of understanding what drove his opponents, accepting their shortcomings and going easy on the open criticism, eventually even turning some into friends.
The outcome was so bizarre, the United States had to amend the Constitution.
Throughout history, some individuals got to play bigger roles than others. Among them, Martin Luther King, Jr. taught us that the success of a cause depends directly on the involvement of the people who joined it.
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