A colleague was recently looking for leadership quotes to pass on to her clients. Her example was, “You have to have a vision to make it come to fruition.” Here are my two cents (two quotes for leaders, and everyone really, to live by, with explanations of why):
“Be the change you want to see in the world” – Mahatma Gandhi
This is a great quote for leaders. If you want an engaged organization, you must lead by engaging. Easier said than done…if you overfunction you will dis-empower the layers below you, but if you underfunction you will do the same. One must lead, but listen and be open to influence…empower but monitor performance. If the leader can’t do this art, only exceptional individuals below will be able to.
And if you try to “fix” portions of the system without continuously working on your own role in the system, forget about it.
I once wrote an article on the similarities between Patton and Gandhi. Similar to the above, the following rings true, and guides me every day.
“You cannot be disciplined in great things and indisciplined in small things” – General George Patton Jr.
I also tend to think in terms of anti-slogans. For example:
“Vision isn’t enough. Custer had it, and look where it got him!”
I just made that one up, but there are countless examples of leaders who focus mostly on vision and statements of values, but don’t trust or know how to access the information coming from their own people, and consequently lead their organizations (or troops) over a cliff that was clearly perceived by many down below. Moving forward soley on the basis of your own vision is tempting because if you wait for everyone to say you are heading the right direction, you’ll never get anywhere. On the other hand, if you don’t invite and explore information from below you are operating in a vacuum of your own creation and almost certainly demoralizing the people you need.
Leadership takes a combination of guts (leaping forward!) (occasionally retreating or adjusting course!) and work (engaging and empowering)!