There is no shortage of quotes about leadership success. Or about successful leaders, from all walks of life. From great socio-political leaders such as Gandhi, Mandela or King, to captains of industry, like Carnegie, Ford or Branson. All are very different leaders. Their differences are what made them unique as leaders, but are there any things successful leaders might have in common? Almost certainly. This article uses ideas from two great business leaders and one great thought leader, looking for a “common” thread to link the three.
Konosuke Matsushita was born in 1894, in a small farming community in western Japan. By the time he died in April 1989, the company he founded, Matushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd., had become a multi-national giant in the field of electrical appliances. With nearly 20,000 employees, Matsushita grew such household brand names as National, Panasonic and Technics.
Konosuke re-counts a meeting with a young reporter who’d asked him what was the secret of his success? It was a question Matsushita had often been asked, but for which he never felt he had a satisfactory answer. On this occasion he said he thought of a clever answer. He asked the reporter:
“What would you do if you were caught in a rainstorm?” The reporter thought about the question and then replied:
“I would take out an umbrella.”
Matsushita said that was his answer to the reporter’s question. The reporter was bemused until Matsushita explained:
“A natural response to a natural phenomenon – that is the secret of success in business and management. You will always win if you rely on common sense.
This advice,” added Matusushita “I believe, also applies to the management of your own life. I can assure you, however, it is not always easy to put into practice.”
Of course, relying on common sense is sound advice but arguably, potential counts for nothing. It’s what you do that matters. So as J.D. Rockefeller once said:
“the secret of success is to do the common thing uncommonly well.” One way to be a successful leader then, is to do something really well, better than anyone else. To do it uncommonly well!
Perhaps the third of these quotes about leadership success shows where leaders can really make a difference. Charles Handy, is a world renowned writer and thinker on business, leadership and management. Handy suggests that what defines successful leaders is that they:
“often use common sense, but they see the sense before it becomes common and that’s what can give companies and their managers the competitive edge. The insights and methods of the gurus can make a big difference to the way we manage our organisations.”
The third thing successful leaders have in common then, is a crucial one. Their ability to see things before others do. To find the sense before it becomes common!
What do these quotes about leadership success highlight? What contributes to the making of a successful leader?
Great leaders have three things in common. They:
- Rely on common sense;
- Do the common things uncommonly well;
- Find the sense before it becomes common.
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