What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It,
and What You Can Learn and Profit From It
We learn best by observing the actions of others. The very real – and great – people featured in Great! graphically illustrate the timeless principles of effective leadership.
—Steve Forbes, Editor-in-Chief: Forbes Magazine
Within its pages, Great! What Makes Leaders Great brings to life the names, stories, legacies and achievements of a number of truly remarkable individuals, some long forgotten by modern history. It is a timely reminder of the boldness of exceptional American leadership. It is intended to inspire readers to reclaim America’s greatness, one individual at a time. Step-by-step, the book illustrates the paths, values, beliefs and examples that the great leaders left for us to follow. It is a call to action for all who wish to become more effective, if not a great leader.
The work’s anecdotes are full of high drama and gutsy moves that make the pages turn quickly…
Civil Engineering, The Magazine of the American Society of Civil Engineers
Walter P. Chrysler, founder of Chrysler Motors, now the Chrysler Corporation stated, "An institution is the reflection of the people who guide it." The dominant theme in Great! What Makes Leaders Great echoes Chrysler’s sentiments. Effective leadership does matter. Great leaders have a strong enduring influence and impact upon the performance of their companies. Great leaders build great companies.
Weaving together their words and stories into a rich fabric, Great! What Makes Leaders Great leads readers through the paths these individuals forged, the barriers, adversities and failures they weathered and the battles they fought for their personal beliefs and values. It details the bold and decisive actions they took in the face of economic downturns, depressions and financial panics, far worse than what the country is currently experiencing. Readers will be absorbed into the characteristics of their resolve, determination, persistence, perseverance and refusal to quit that differentiated them from their competitors.
“Great!” is a strongly recommended pick for those who want to best understand why some companies can flounder despite having most of the tools of success.
—The Midwest Book Review
Here’s What You’ll Learn
Great! What Makes Leaders Great is based upon the groundbreaking research of 160 influential American leaders, spanning over 235 years, from George Washington to Bill Gates. It places leadership into a historical context, illustrating how their concepts, principles and methods were developed, forged and evolved into contemporary leadership’s best practices. Within the book, stories, quotes and antidotes about the great leaders illustrate the following key points:
- Vision: The great leaders cultivated a strong, enduring and lifelong vision of where they wanted to go and what they wished to achieve that defined their purpose, shaped their thinking, and influenced their decisions. This defined their major purpose in life, and upon which they staked their existence on achieving it.
- Values: The great leaders possessed a deep personal sense of responsibility toward others. They developed and relied on a strong internal compass, incorporating it into their beliefs, guiding principles and core values, generating enduring organizational values that mirrored their personal attitudes, values, thinking and work ethics.
- Crucible: The great leaders experienced a prolonged period of adversity, disappointment, discouragement and failure early in their careers, which ultimately defined their character, refined their critical thinking and established their legitimacy as a leader.
- Emerging Markets: The great leaders identified emerging market opportunities and trends that offered tremendous advantages. Consequently they experienced tremendous levels of growth, fueled by dramatic expansions in their external markets.
- Business Creation: The great leaders capitalized upon the opportunities presented to them. They exhibited high degrees of confidence in themselves, and in their own ideas and they persisted, refused to quit or accept defeat, fueled by their determination and resolve.
- Capabilities: The great leaders acquired the right skills and abilities to take advantage of the opportunities presented to them. They exemplified visionary thinking, anticipating the future with an acute sense of clairvoyance, while embracing change to capitalize on new and emerging markets.
- Attention to Details: The great leaders conscientiously focused and immersed themselves in details. They investigated new possibilities as imaginative, curious and investigative thinkers, and personally prepared themselves to take advantage of these through in-depth study and analysis.
- Intellectual Honesty: The great leaders exhibited a sense of intellectual honesty for completely comprehending the reality surrounding their circumstances, carefully calculating the gains and consequences of their decisions so as not to place themselves or their companies in jeopardy. They employed a factual approach to decision making, being objective and open-minded permitting their actions and decisions to be challenged, while also challenging others’ thinking, perspectives and points of view.
- Architects of Growth: The great leaders were architects and builders of growth, creating detailed blueprints, while forging building blocks of growth.
- Ruthless Efficiency: The great leaders effectively practiced the concept of “ruthless efficiency.” They improved the quality of their product, while enhancing their customer’s experiences by building products faster and cheaper. They did everything possible to drive down all associated costs, while they built and sustained profitability by increasing sales volumes.
- Execution: The great leaders exhibited the talent to execute and get things done as masters of execution acquiring a passion and zeal for execution of their plans and strategies.
- Right People: The great leaders built high-performing organizations by focusing on attracting the right people to their companies, and utilizing their strengths by placing them in the right jobs. They recognized that their companies were comprised of people and not faceless assets and they empowered, motivated and inspired their employees through delegation and team building, and creating a supportive environment.
- Marketing: The great leaders exhibited proficiency as consummate masters of marketing building emotional connections to their brands, while creating a demand for product and a market for their products where none existed before.
- Organizational Reputation: The great leaders produced a strong organizational reputation that became a projection of their attitudes, values, decisions and actions.
- Financial Performance: The great leaders generated stellar and balanced financial performance due to a long-term perspective, rather than by focusing on short-term profitability and shareholder-value. They concentrated on their customers, not on creating wealth and developing shareholder value, considering both of these to be outcomes, not a primary driving force. They viewed value creation as a measurement tool, consistent with their vision and values and they perceived wealth creation as a consequence of their strong vision and subsequent focus.
Ultimately, GREAT! is a brilliantly conceived and cohesive work—a unique book about leadership that extends far beyond the business genre.
—Barry Silverstein ForeWord Clarion – Five Star Review
Great! What Makes Leaders Great clarifies the numerous ways the great leaders took advantage of emerging opportunities, often creating demand for their products where none existed. Readers will discover just what made them grand architects, who were able to forge building blocks of growth while possessing a zeal for executing their plans and strategies.
The book spotlights how the dimensions of humanity, humility, empathy and compassion were woven into their characters, which are emphasized through factual accounts and stories. Great! What Makes Leaders Great reveals their perceptions of wealth creation and profitability, as well as organizational sustainability. It compares and contrasts them with many contemporary attitudes and practices.
Bednarz’s writing is lively and readable. The book is attractively presented … The many examples and anecdotes are lively and well-presented…
—Leon Ginsberg, editor, Administration in Social Work
What Would You Gain From This Book
- Gaining insight into where the great leaders began in their lives
Understanding what the great leaders experienced throughout their careers
Comprehending how the great leaders overcame failure, disappointment and failure
Observing the paths the great leaders trod upon to achieve the pinnacles of success
Knowing what the great leaders did to become successful
Understanding how the great leaders did it
Applying the lessons the great leaders learned to your life
Avoiding the failures many influential leaders experienced
Well worth reading, especially as it usefully challenges those writers on the subject who over-emphasize the traditional power driven approach that, all too often, ignore the soft values dimension of leadership.
—Long Range Planning – International Journal of Strategic Management (Elsevier-UK)
Great! What Makes Leaders Great is a unique book that presents unique perspectives that employs the words, actions and experiences of the great leaders to define leadership. These are the individuals who are responsible for the development of modern management and leadership theory that is practiced today. Great! What Makes Leaders Great removes the filters of many contemporary leadership experts who have interpreted it for popular consumption to illustrate it in the great leaders’ own words and actions.
If you are looking for a fresh perspective and definition of leadership and how to apply it to your life, then Great! What Makes Leaders Great is the book to read.