Great leaders aren’t born overnight. And it’s true, great leaders have some inherent personality traits that other folks simply don’t possess. But beyond that, great leaders constantly educate themselves because they know they can always get better.
In that vein, here are five bona fide great leaders from over the years and their leadership qualities that everyone should strive to emulate:
1. Albert Einstein: inquisitiveness
“The important thing is to not stop questioning." So says Albert Einstein, the theoretical physicist best known for developing the theory of relativity and his work in quantum physics. Quite simply, Einstein’s work was outside of the realm of what average folks can understand. Never satisfied with answers, he questioned and questioned — and questioned some more.
Great leaders are never satisfied with the way things are going because they know they could be going better. They regularly question processes so as to improve them.
2. Winston Churchill: communication
Serving as the prime minister of the U.K. during World War II, Winston Churchill certainly had a lot on his plate. Part of the reason he’s remembered as a strong leader is because he was an effective communicator. He knew what he was talking about, he knew his audience, and he made sure his audience could understand what he was saying.
Nobody likes to be lectured to. So Churchill wove humor into his speeches to keep his audience’s attention.
Great leaders keep their employees abreast of what’s going on at their organizations. Their employees aren’t in for any rude awakenings, and they’re more engaged as a result.
3. Nikola Tesla: imagination
There are creatives who jot down notes and sketches and revise their work in notebook after notebook (digital or otherwise). Then there’s Nikola Tesla, who created things like Tesla coils, remote controls, alternating current, and induction motors all in his head.
The guy literally thought about these crazy and intricate inventions in his head, refining them all along the way. Then when he arrived at the final draft, it was time to get to work.
You are not Nikola Tesla. But great leaders are inspired by his imagination.
4. Abraham Lincoln: curiosity
Abraham Lincoln is largely regarded as one of the best presidents in U.S. history. Did you know that he taught himself law?
Indeed, Honest Abe was autodidactic. He was curious about everything, and rather than relying on others to teach him, Lincoln took the necessary steps to learn on his own.
Great leaders learn about new things every day. They then apply that knowledge to better their organizations.
5. Mother Teresa: compassion
Mother Teresa spent her life helping the less fortunate. She understood that some folks simply had a terrible hand dealt to them, and she did what she could to help lessen their load. Great leaders know that their workers bust their tails for them every day. Accordingly, they reward dedication. They’re also flexible, accommodating their workers as much as they can.
Do you embody these traits? Could you do better?
You’re already a good leader. Emulate these fantastic leaders from history, and you may become a great one just yet.