Timeless Leadership Lessons and the Quotes That Go With Them

Most of the articles I have written over 30 years have climbed around the monkey bars at the intersection of Leadership, Strategy and Productivity. A ccording to several keen observers, I’ve also listened in on their boardroom conversations.


Others have said they recognized themselves in my examples … I’ll never tell … and some have even said, “stop writing about me”. We’ll never know if it was intentional or accidental, will we?

What are Some of the Most Important Leadership Concepts?

From that platform, I decided to take a moment to summarize some of the timeless issues that beset executives … and since so many of you have remarked about how much you love the regular quotes … and have liberally “borrowed” them … which you should … I’ve grabbed a few to re-introduce those concepts (and give you collective access to a bunch of them at once.)

In most cases, time has only strengthened my conviction about the importance of these concepts. Most of them deserve to be regularly refreshed and repeated as the touchstones of Effective Leadership and successful businesses.

“There is nothing more exhilarating than to be shot at without result.” ~ Winston Churchill

This is one of my favorite quotes about entrepreneurship, capturing the risk and danger while highlighting the invigorating feeling it creates.

Thanks, Sir Winston, for succinctly pinpointing the essence of what it means to pursue our entrepreneurial passions.

“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will do.” ~ Socrates

“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower

There are plenty more where these come from … and each of them is a powerful reminder of the need for strategic thinking.

I’ve frequently touched on strategy and planning as cornerstones of successful businesses. Yes, it takes a meaningful investment, sharpshooter focus and relentless diligence … but the rewards for companies who pursue it with a passion are unarguable.

I said then and reiterate now:

Countless business studies have shown that businesses with a disciplined and consistent process for formulating AND implementing their strategy have out-performed their industry peers by a significant margin.

“In business, the competition will bite you if you keep running; if you stand still, they will swallow you.” ~William Knudsen Jr., Former Chairman, Ford Motor Company

In general, we fully understand the keen attention to competitive intelligence when it comes to professional sports.

They invest heavily to assess the competition. No, you can’t get videotape for every play your competition makes, but that shouldn’t stop you from evaluating the competition with as much vigor and rigor as you can muster.

It’s surprising how many businesses rely upon rumor, innuendo and scuttlebutt to evaluation their competition.

Make it an important part of your strategy and do some homework and hard work to learn everything you can.

“Some regard private enterprise as if it were a predatory tiger to be shot. Others look upon it as a cow that they can milk. Only a handful see it for what it really is – the strong horse that pulls the whole cart.” ~Winston Churchill

I’ve often lamented about the strong predisposition of family businesses to focus on the “family” part of the “family business” at the exclusion of an equally important discussion about the “business” of the family.

I’ve watched companies struggle with these issues every day, and urge them to remember that the strength of the business, the mother ship is the fountainhead of family stability and harmony. Without it, squabbling crescendos and family dynamics tend to disintegrate.

So, don’t just focus on putting family back into the family business. Make sure you’re also putting business back in their, too.

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” ~ Albert Schweitzer

“Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand – and melting like a snowflake.” ~ Sir Francis Bacon

The power of passion and commitment shouldn’t overwhelm just having fun.

Many have said “if you love what you’re doing, you’ll never work a day in your life”, so make sure you’re committed to something you love and have fun along the way.

Question: What’s the #1 Leadership Lesson you’ve learned? You can easily add your comment below, or by visiting our Facebook Page or @Exkalibur on Twitter. I visit them every day and look forward to discussing these ideas and concepts with you.

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