True leadership is not that easy to find. People are not born with the qualities that will make them leaders; those are not qualities which stay dormant within every one of us. Not so the potential to develop them. To become a good leader, you need to know how to unleash that potential. The best way to do that is to follow these golden rules inspired in the Great Classics. Make a note:
1. Know Yourself – Thales of Miletus
That’s the hardest task, but also the most crucial. Getting to know oneself means knowing what our best hidden motivations are, and taking the decision of committing to that which we want to achieve.
2. Discover people – Pythagoras
Delegating power to the people, you will discover their innate qualities. By giving power, you can learn if a person has the disposition to become a leader or not. Discovering hidden leaders is a strategy to take your leadership to success.
3. Be a team – Plato
From Plato, we can extract the second golden rule: encourage team culture over the individual. Good leaders will always try to get their people involved in the same project, fostering a culture of collaboration so as to achieve a common goal. According to Plato, the benefits of working together outweigh the “evil of discord”.
4. Protect your values – Aristotle
Aristotle wrote about the “magnanimous” man, the one who lives according to a strict code of honor, stricter than that which the average person has. A leader must also protect and live according to their values, and apply them to the vision of their project or company, so that living according to them is their top priority. Make your decisions based on your principles.
5. Competitiveness + Creativity – Hesiod
Competitiveness coming from selfishness (we should perhaps speak of “envy”) is a destructive quality. But that competitiveness which fosters creativity and inventiveness is not only constructive but also enhances the development and excellence of leadership.
6. Always seek the truth – Antisthenes
Antisthenes said that only our enemies, or else those friends who love us very much, will be able to tell us the truth. The basis for effective leadership is honesty, but not everyone is willing to “sing the truth”. Therefore, leaders must be willing to surround themselves with people who are able to offer an honest assessment about them. So Seneca said: “I’d rather annoy with the truth than please with adulation.”
7. Don’t waste energy in that which you cannot change – Aristophanes
In his “Peace”, Aristophanes wrote: “You will never get the crab to walk straight.” Indeed, there are things we cannot change. Successful (and productive) leadership takes a flexible approach and does not waste time on things that cannot be changed.
8. Set your goals – Seneca
The philosopher Seneca would say that “there is never favorable wind for he who knows not where he is going.” From this quote, and from many others by Seneca offered during the course-game Triskelion on time management and personal productivity, we can learn a great lesson: set your goals so you always know what direction to take, and succeed.
9. Do not underestimate the power of personal integrity – Sophocles
In the play “Philoctetes” by Sophocles, one of the main characters argues that the end “justifies the means” and another one, Neoptolemus, refutes that theory by ensuring that he prefers to “fail with honor than win by cheating.” A good leader can never rationalize the wrong behavior.
10. Character marks destiny – Heraclitus
Our character determines the course of our lives. That’s why, as Heraclitus said, it is so important to know ourselves and although we cannot control everything around us, we are ultimately responsible for our own misfortunes or fortunes. Leadership must work persistently on what you want to achieve.
Which one is your favorite rule?