Celebrating Our 25th With 25 Exceptional Leadership Insights

To commemorate the 25th volume of Bottom Line – a magazine dedicated to helping leaders of small- and medium-sized businesses propel their companies forward – we’re looking at insights from 25 successful leaders. Their thoughts and views may help propel your organization to new heights.

What exceptional leadership looks like can vary by the situation, but great leaders share some common traits. So who better to answer the question, “What makes a standout leader?” than exceptional leaders themselves? Here’s what 25 leaders in business, politics, sports, religion, the military, and the arts have to say about what enables memorable leadership.

An effective leader…

Inspires others

“Leaders need to provide strategy and direction and to give employees tools that enable them to gather information and insight from around the world. Leaders shouldn’t try to make every decision.”
     Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft

“Leadership is the capacity and will to rally men and women to a common purpose and the character which inspires confidence.”
     Bernard “Monty” Montgomery, WWI and WWII British Army officer

“The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.”
     Ronald Reagan, 40th U.S. president

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
     Maya Angelou, poet

“To lead people, walk beside them. As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence... when the best leader’s work is done, the people say, ‘We did it ourselves!’”
     Lao Tzu, philosopher

Is a good listener

“The ear of the leader must ring with the voices of the people.”
     Woodrow Wilson, 28th U.S. president

"Listening to others, especially those with whom we disagree, tests our own ideas and beliefs. It forces us to recognize, with humility, that we don’t have a monopoly on the truth.”
     Janet Yellen, Chair of the Board, Governors of the Federal Reserve System

“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.”
     Peter Drucker, management consultant

“Listening is being able to be changed by the other person.”
     Alan Alda, actor

“Smart leaders believe only half of what they hear. Discerning leaders know which half to believe.”
     John C. Maxwell, founder of INJOY, Maximum Impact









Takes risks

“You are better off trying something and having it not work and learning from that than not doing anything at all.”
     Mark Zuckerberg, Chairman, CEO, Facebook

“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty six times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
     Michael Jordan, winner of six NBA championships

Is a problem-solver

“Don’t find fault, find a remedy.”
     Henry Ford, American industrialist

“Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.”
     Conrad Hilton, hotel executive

“I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.”
     Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minister, United Kingdom

“I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
     Thomas Edison, American inventor

“Leadership is... to make sure you never limit the idea or opportunity. What I find myself doing more often than not is ensuring we have enough runway in front of us, ensuring that we are thinking about things [that are] big enough.”
     Kevin Plank, Chairman and CEO of Under Armour

“The way to develop self-confidence is to do the thing you fear and get a record of successful experiences behind you. Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.”
     William Jennings Bryan, politician

“Go out on a limb. That’s where the fruit is.”
     Jimmy Carter, 39th U.S. president

“A man would do nothing if he waited until he could do it so well that no one would find fault with what he has done.”
     John Henry Newman, Roman Catholic cardinal and theologian

Builds consensus

“Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate, and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand.”
     Colin Powell, four-star general, U.S. Army, former Secretary of State

“A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus, but a molder of consensus.”
     Martin Luther King, Jr., civil rights leader

“A leader... is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.”
     Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa

“A business leader has to keep their organization focused on the mission. That sounds easy, but it can be tremendously challenging in today’s competitive and ever-changing business environment. A leader also has to motivate potential partners to join.”
     Meg Whitman, CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise

“I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people.”
     Mahatma Gandhi, leader of Indian independence movement



Great leaders aren’t born, they’re made … and ADP® can help
Having a solid foundation can give you a leg up on your leadership journey. Thousands of business owners rely on ADP every day to help them keep their businesses compliant, as well as to develop growth strategies, motivate, and reward employees. Be the leader your business needs. And rely on ADP to help move your workforce forward.

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