Leadership Lessons from National Leaders

Bob Funk Founder, CEO, and Chairman of the Board of Express Employment Professionals

bob-funkSome are born with it, others try to learn it, and many do not discover their capacity for leadership until they are faced with the opportunity. Understanding how to lead effectively is essential in today’s business world, where the wrong hand at the helm can drag down productivity and morale, make a business less competitive, and result in a crippling lack of confidence in management. How do you “learn” leadership? A great way to start is to take a look at the best practices of truly effective leaders and apply their techniques in a way that makes sense for your own style and circumstances.

Leadership Overcomes Diversity
Leading a Nation Through 9/11 During his eight years in the White House, former President George W. Bush exemplified strength in leadership as he guided America through the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attack on the U.S., as well as a difficult and complex financial crisis.

President Bush is quoted as defining his approach to leadership this way: “Leadership to me means duty, honor, country. It means character, and it means listening from time to time.” Authors Carolyn B. Thompson and Jim Ware explored the “common sense” leadership attributes of the former President in their book, “The Leadership Genius of George W. Bush: 10 Common Sense Lessons from the Commander-in-Chief.”

They offer this powerful advice for any leader:

  • Identify core values
  • Build alliances
  • Have a vision
  • Communicate
  • Build trust
  • Be disciplined
  • Bring in the right people
  • Follow your intuition
  • Allow those hired to do their jobs
  • Get results

“Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.” – George W. Bush

The Power of a Mom Leader
Susan Wojcicki is famous for being Google company employee number 16 and for owning the Menlo Park, California, garage where the company first set up offices. Now the CEO of YouTube, Wojcicki was named to Time Magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in 2015. Wojcicki explains that being a mother of five children is one of the attributes that makes her a better leader, because it makes her prioritize her time and be efficient about focusing on the things that will make the most impact on the business. “Having the sum of both of those things going on in my life makes me a better mom at the end of the day, and Ithink it gives me really important perspectives in the workplace as well,” Wojcicki said.

“I have had a lot of setbacks that I have learned from.” – Susan Wojcicki CEO of YouTube

A Lesson from the NFL
Tony Dungy started out as an NFL player, and then coached the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Indianapolis Colts. He made history as the first African American coach to win the Super Bowl, and did so without the yelling and anger often seen on the sidelines. He is known for his strong personal values and genuine, ethical leadership. Since retiring from football, Tony Dungy is a New York Times bestselling author who has inspired many with his ability to equate leadership with the lessons he learned in the NFL.

Dungy offers this valuable advice in his book “Quiet Strength: The Principles, Practices & Priorities of a Winning Life”:

  • Be a pro.
  • Act like a champion.
  • Respond to adversity; don’t react.
  • Be on time. Being late means either it’s not important to you or you can’t be relied upon.
  • Execute. Do what you’re supposed to do when you’re supposed to do it. Not almost. All the way. Not most of the time. All of the time.
  • Take ownership. Whatever it takes. No excuses, no explanations.

“A good leader gets people to follow him because they want to, not because he makes them.” Tony Dungy

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