7 Examples Of Great Leadership

One may wonder where they can find examples of great leadership. If you ask me, I’d say you can find these examples almost anywhere.

Sometimes great leadership is discovered in pop culture. Other times you’ll find it in those you know personally. And still you may find great leadership examples from those long gone and far away.

Today, I want to look at 7 people who exemplified great leadership. Granted, they may not have always been great, but they did lead greatly for at least a time.

1. Jim Sinegal, Former CEO of Costco – He’s been declared a man of the people. When he was CEO of Costco, you could call his number and he would answer personally.

He also wanted to be addressed simply. His name tag said he could be called Jim. How cool is that?

Another thing Jim did was to regularly visit the Costco stores. He’d make visits just to tour the store and get to know the atmosphere.

Lastly, he took on a salary of $350,000. Why? Because he decided he shouldn’t make more than 12 employees.

Leadership example? Don’t get too big for your britches. You should always be approachable and your pay should be reasonable.

2. Mother Teresa – So many leaders have the idea that to lead greatly you have to focus on everyone. Mother Teresa took a different approach.

She saw the poor. The hurt. The dying. And she knew something had to be done.

When you know that there’s that many hurting people out there, you might think you’d go to work helping them all. Mother Teresa didn’t.

Instead, she got to work helping one person. AT A TIME.

She did what she could for the person right in front of her. She learned to FOCUS on the immediate need. She decided to HELP the person right then.

Leadership example? Take on one person at a time. Doing so makes a difference.

3. Nelson Mandela – After spending nearly 30 years in prison, Mandela was the first democratically elected president of South Africa.

He endured hell in the prison system and yet he emerged as someone those in South Africa looked up to. He won their votes and he won their hearts.

Leadership example? Don’t let the past define you. You may have been in prison at one point but that doesn’t mean you can’t lead.

4. George Washington, first president of the United States of America – If you read through George Washington’s writings, you’ll discover a focused man. He had a vision and a plan for what the United States of America could be. And he laid those plans out for others to follow.

Leadership example? Create a clear and concise vision. Help others to see this vision and latch onto it.

5. Henry Ford – He’s quoted as saying

Anyone who stops learning is old, whether twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning is young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.

Ford continued his pursuit of life-long education and knowledge. He had many interests and he actively cultivated these interests.

Leadership example? Never stop learning.

6. Louanne Johnson, from the movie Dangerous Minds – Michelle Pfeiffer played the teacher Lounne Johnson in Dangerous Minds.

As an ex-marine, she takes on a teaching assignment in the inner city only to struggle teaching these young students. They’re hardened and are unwilling to learn.

That is until Johnson begins to use unusual teaching methods. She begins to teach using karate and Bob Dylan lyrics.

Through her unorthodox methods, she begins to win the students over and they begin to learn.

Leadership example? Look for ways to connect with those you lead. Sometimes your methods will have to stray from the normal, accepted methods of leadership.

7. Michael Hyatt, former CEO of Thomas Nelson – Here’s a man I’ve learned so much from. Michael has been blogging and sharing his leadership wisdom with anyone who’s willing to read his blog.

I discovered Michael after Dan Miller mentioned him on a podcast. Hearing what Dan had to say about Michael, I knew I had to check him out.

Michael has continued to pour out his knowledge to those who are willing to listen. And he’s done a majority of it for free.

Leadership example? Pour into those who are hungry to learn. You’ll create rabid followers who are loyal to a fault.

There. This is but a taste of the great leadership examples you can find in the world. There’s plenty more where these leaders came from. And that’s what my question’s going to be today. I want your help and I want you to answer this question:

Question: What’s a great example of leadership you’ve observed? Please share this example in the comment section below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Joel Manby – President/CEO of Herschend Family Entertainment and author of Love Works.

    • He’s an excellent example Jon. Manby also shows how alternative leadership methods work wonders.

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  • Reading Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book on Teddy Roosevelt. Another leader with lessons to learn from.

    • Teddy’s a good one Shawn. What’s one leadership lesson you’ve learned from his life?

      • The guy was relentless. He was born a bit feeble (suffered from asthma and prone to different illnesses), but possessed great mental abilities. After getting sick on a trip his dad sat him down and said, “Theodore, you have the mind but you have not the body, without the help of the body the mind cannot go as far as it should.” He responded by saying, “I will make my body.” I think we should spend most of our time focused on developing strengths rather than weakness, except when those weaknesses keep us from maximizing our strengths. Teddy’s story illustrates this so well.

  • Those are great leadership examples.
    Sometimes I see the greatest leadership in those who don’t even consider themselves leaders, in people the world doesn’t recognize as a “leader”. A true leader serves others.
    Jesus is the greatest example of a servant leader. And it’s Him I see in some of the greatest leaders I know or have read about.

  • RcMaFitness

    Great examples of great people, VERY inspiring! Thank you Joe! I would say my father has always been a great example of leadership for me. An example? Well, one day I told him, “Daddy the maid wants a word w/you.” My father got infuriated and told me, “Let it be the last time you address her by a title! She has a name & a last name, & that’s how I want you to address her!” His face was so red when he told me that I really thought he was just about to have a heart attack. Looking at the bright side, I survived the talk my father had w/me, & I learned to treat people w/respect, dignity. From my mother? I’ve learned bravery & to be upfront. Cool parents! 🙂

    • I love that example of your father being a leader to you on how to respect those you encounter. That’s the sign of a great leader.

  • Some of the most inspiring leaders to me are those who few know about but have boldly stepped forward to make huge sacrifices and are shining examples of integrity and courage.

    Right now I’m thinking of one of my students who was married just last year and last month his wife gave birth to their first child. His name is Dima and he’s a youth leader in his church. Last week when the draft notice came to his home, instead of finding a thousand excuses why he should go and fight on the front lines, he grabbed his bags and left his young family to fight for his country.

    To me that is leadership in it’s most basic form! Making the right decision no matter how tough it might be! Being willing and ready to sacrifice everything for the sake of others!

    • That’s an awesome, yet sad, example of leadership Caleb.

  • Amy Bovaird

    Interesting topic! I used to teach a Leadership course to international military at Lackland AFB and I always loved the discussion. Some of my students thought Patton was a good example because of his strength and others thought he was weak because he didn’t care enough about his men. I read Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom and found that he was an awesome leader because with dignity, he demanded respect even from the jailers. He used his prison time to as a top-down model of instruction and through his, and others of his level imprisoned, they set up an institution of learning in the prison. After his release, it was again, his dignity and passion for fairness that won him respect. Great example!

    • Two more great examples Amy. Thanks for sharing those two leaders.

  • Nick

    Good list but you missed two out. Sun Ra and Captain Beefheart! They ruled with an ironfist, but the results they got were worth the effort! #thisyearinmusic

  • Great list of leaders. I would add Truett Cathy. He stood on what he believed and did not back down because others said you need to open on Sunday’s.

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