On the night of April 18, 1775, two men rode out of Boston with news that the British army was marching the following morning to crush the American colonies’ fledgling rebellion before it had a chance to get started. One rider went southwest, then turned north, the other rode directly northwest. Both stopped to warn people at farms and towns along the way to Concord, the target of the British assault, where the rebels’ military supplies were stored.
Their mission was to raise the alarm and with it an army to oppose the British. That night, Paul Revere was so successful rallying troops to the revolutionary cause that his name is remembered by most Americans 238 years later. The other rider, William Dawes, was much less effective and, most likely, you have never heard of him unless you are a student of American Revolutionary War history.
So what was the difference in the results achieved by the two men? The difference was leadership – the ability to influence others to take action.
Leadership has the power to change everything.
In fact, most of what we know of our past on planet Earth is recorded examples where leadership has changed the course of history.
In more recent times, Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt rallied Great Britain and the United States to defeat the Nazis and the Axis powers in World War II. Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher joined forces more than 30 years later to pressure the Soviet Union to tear down the Berlin Wall and eventually helped end the reign of Soviet Communism that plagued Eastern Europe and Russia for decades.
Effective leadership really does have the power to change everything.
Leaders focus, as we should, on how to apply leadership principles, skills and strategies to achieve goals, motivate teams and make things better around us. However, as we look for how to use leadership for good, we should remember a very important fact:
Leadership is neutral.
Leadership is a tool, like a shovel is a tool. You can use a shovel to plant a tree for Earth Day or hit your neighbor over the head with it. Same shovel. Very different result.
Check your reaction to these six famous leaders, as you read each name: Napoleon Bonaparte, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Joan of Arc, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr.
Each of these leaders motivated thousands of people and changed the direction of history. Some of the changes were good, some bad and some a combination. In every case, there was a high price paid in resources and lives, including, several who paid with their own lives.
John Maxwell said it best, “Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less.” By that definition, leadership is neutral and it’s our responsibility as leaders, to make sure we use our leadership for good. We have opportunities every day to motivate ourselves and others to develop remarkable leadership and achieve great results.
So, how do we motivate ourselves and other leaders to develop remarkable leadership and achieve greatness?
1) Become the best leader you can be.
Whether you are a carpenter, a professional athlete or a leader, your craft has to be developed to reach your potential. Commit yourself to both personal and leadership growth programs. Read books, attend seminars and watch or listen to leadership training resources. Hire a good coach to help you remove obstacles and maximize your strengths.
2) Inspire others.
With intentional focus and effort, you can observe leadership abilities in others around you. Encourage them to develop their leadership skills. The world has an infinite capacity for good leadership and you can make a big impact by identifying and helping others become better leaders.
3) Model the way.
People do what they see, not what they hear. Your consistent growth as a leader will show up in your results and will inspire others to become better too. As John Maxwell also says, “A leader knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.”
The power of leadership is the power to influence and motivate people to change, grow and achieve common goals. It starts with growing and leading ourselves and extends to helping others on their leadership journeys.
Commit today to growth and becoming your best as a leader and you’ll be well on your way to making a positive impact in your world.
About the Author
Karl is an executive leader and influential communicator who develops strategies for growth and effective solutions to business and organizational challenges. He is President & CEO of several successful companies and founder of Envision Leadership, LLC. Karl uses his real-world experience to help leaders maximize personal, team and organizational performance.
As a certified John Maxwell leadership speaker, trainer and coach, Karl brings you more than theory and concepts. He brings you customized real-world solutions you can turn into results – both in your own life and across your organization
Contact Karl at: www.johnmaxwellgroup.com/karlnewman