What Bill Gates, Peter F. Drucker, and Maya Angelou Shared About Leadership

If you follow us on LinkedIn, then you’re probably familiar with a few of these quotes. Every Monday, we share one of our favorite quotes – whether it’s about leadership or just about being human.

These quotes inspire us and remind us why we got into this business in the first place. Here are a few of our favorites and ways we’ve used them to inform our behaviors, communication skills, and leadership styles.

“As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” – Bill Gates

As of 2018, Bill Gates still held the title of richest man in the world. It was the 16th consecutive year he’d been named as such, so it’s probably safe to say Gates is quite the businessman. As the founder of Microsoft, Gates’ company has been credited with inventing many of the programs and technologies that have shaped the Digital Age we know today. He has seen many a shift and transformation in the corporate world as a whole, and his look towards the future – that is, dubbing the future as people-focused – is inspiring.

In the past, businesses worked well with a hierarchical model of power. It enabled a clear chain of command: who’s at the top, the middle, the bottom. That same top-down approach is no longer the one-size-fits-all solution it was thought to be. Today, lines are blurred, people are working cross-functionally, and job descriptions are just ongoing lists. In order to succeed in this landscape, it’s imperative that everyone is empowered to lead.

As Bill Gates said, it’s the leaders who are able to empower their people – in their roles, in their development, and in pushing them further – that will yield the best results.

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” – John F. Kennedy

As a leadership development company, perhaps we’re a bit impartial to this one – but it’s true! We live in a world where the pace of change is constant, so it’s important that we match that with constant learning.

To be a better leader, you have to move with the changes. You have to adapt, understand, and keep pushing yourself to learn more, to be better, and to develop crucial skills (both hard and soft) that can in turn empower your team and empower others to become leaders in their own right.

We do this by learning. By taking courses, by doing the research, and by practicing what we preach.

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget the way you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

This Maya Angelou quote is an ode to the importance of interpersonal skills. We’ve talked about the importance of soft skills many times, but it bears repeating: it’s inherently as important to develop your soft skills as is your hard or practical skills.

In our own experience, we’ve seen a few ways that a lack of soft skills can effect organizations:

  • There are top-performers who just can’t communicate all that well. They’re great at their specification job functions, but when it comes to collaborating with the team, having an open dialogue, or working with external clients, it just doesn’t come as naturally. This leads to strained relationships and tricky conversations.
  • Generational differences lead to a perceived “lack of communication skills”. We typically see this discrepancy between Millennials and Baby Boomers. Where Boomers were taught to accept things at face-value and get their work done, Millennials have been taught to question and think different. This fundamental difference often leads to miscommunication or misunderstanding on both ends.
  • Tough conversations become even tougher. On teams where open collaboration or conversation is not welcome, we’ve found that it can be hard for those without positional authority to voice their opinions, ideas, or concerns.

Without a culture that promotes open communication and collaborative discussion, we’re limiting our creativity, our adaptability, and most importantly – our success. Learning how to communicate with others effectively is an indispensable skill in any industry, any role, and any setting.

“The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not turbulence. It is to act with yesterday’s logic.” – Peter F. Drucker

Drucker, often referred to as a the Founder of Modern Management, is spot on. As we’ve said before, times are changing and they’re changing fast. That means our solutions, our problem-solving skills, and how we work together must change with it.

It does an organization no good to act with the logic of last century, or even last year. That’s why we believe in the democratization of leadership resources. The hierarchy of the workplace has long run its course, and it’s time to empower everyone to lead everyday.

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