Common Denominators of Great Leadership.

Citation metadata

Author: Emilio Iodice
Date: Wntr-Spring 2021
From: The Journal of Values-Based Leadership(Vol. 14, Issue 1)
Publisher: The Lutheran University Association, Inc., dba Valparaiso University
Document Type: Article
Length: 7,124 words
Lexile Measure: 820L

Document controls

Main content

Article Preview :

Excerpts from: When Courage was the Essence of Leadership: Lessons from History

There could be many interpretations of what a great leader must be. Some prominent leaders and thinkers have said: The price of greatness is responsibility.

--Winston Churchill, former British Prime Minister

To lead people, walk beside them ... As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence. The next best, the people honor and praise. The next, the people fear; and the next, the people hate ... When the best leader's work is done the people say, "We did it ourselves!"

--Lao Tzu, Chinese philosopher

All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common: it was the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time. This, and not much else, is the essence of leadership.

--John Kenneth Galbraith, Economist

Leadership must be based on goodwill. Goodwill does not mean posturing and, least of all, pandering to the mob. It means obvious and wholehearted commitment to helping followers. We are tired of leaders we fear, tired of leaders we love, and tired of leaders who let us take liberties with them. What we need for leaders are men of the heart who are so helpful that they, in effect, do away with the need of their jobs. But leaders like that are never out of a job, never out of followers. Strange as it sounds, great leaders gain authority by giving it away.

--Admiral James B. Stockdale, President of the U.S. Naval War College

Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate, and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand.

--General Colin Powell, former US Secretary of State

Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees the others.


Courage is the first step. Once the journey begins, other qualities have to come to bear if one is to be a "great leader"--a term used frequently. What is great leadership?

Great leaders make significant, positive, and permanent differences in the lives of people and institutions, and stand as symbols of justice, fairness, strength, honesty, integrity, and courage.--Emilio Iodice

The impact of great leaders transcends time. We will use the examples of Julius Caesar, Augustus Caesar, Napoleon, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Eleanor Roosevelt, Margaret Thatcher, and Oprah Winfrey to explain the key qualities of great leaders. They span over 2000 years. They represent the experience of the ages. Each left a historic legacy.

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. --Nelson Mandela

One isn't necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can't be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.

--Maya Angelou

Heroes represent the best of ourselves, respecting that we are human beings. A hero can be anyone...

Source Citation

Source Citation   

Gale Document Number: GALE|A647703586