How to Lead
Read in 23 min.
Listen in 28 min.
Learn the key ideas of the book by David M. Rubenstein

How to Lead

The characteristics that make a leader unique

Leaders come "in all shapes and sizes", as Nike creator Phil Knight puts it, and in fact there are as many different kinds of leaders as there are professions and market sectors in which they operate. In spite of there being such a vast range of management styles, it is nevertheless possible to find some common traits that, on learning of people’s experiences, seem to outline a clear recipe for leadership. Billionaire and philanthropist, David Mark Rubenstein, interviewed some of the most prominent American personalities in contemporary history, to find out what sets a leader apart from the rest of society, and has compiled these conversations in his book How to Lead: Wisdom from the World's Greatest CEOs, Founders, and Game Changers.

How to Lead
Read in 23 min.
Listen in 28 min.

Leaders can be extremely different kinds of people, but they all share some common traits

If we think of modern leaders, an incredible variety of people come to mind: there are as many different types of leadership as there are sectors to which they apply. From fields involving ideas and innovation, to those of political and military power, as well as those regarding rules, thought, and even sport, the definition of leader can differ greatly. What does not seem to change, however, is the range of qualities that the vast majority of the prominent personalities of our time seem to have in common: rather than something that is immediately recognisable, it is more a case of an underlying situation, which the author has managed to give form to, thanks to the numerous interviews he has had the opportunity to conduct over the years with a wide range of leaders. With each conversation, certain recurring factors began to stand out in the stories of the people he interviewed, giving shape to a well-defined pattern of qualities, behaviours, and disciplines. Specifically, some of the factors that contribute to forming a true leader are:

  1. luck;
  2. the ability to react positively to failure;
  3. a combination of ambition and tenacity;
  4. hard work and passion;
  5. the willingness and ability to never stop learning;
  6. listening, humility, and recognising the value of others;
  7. a desire to improve the world.

Not all great leaders possess each and every one of these characteristics, however many of them go hand in hand with each other, combining to form a network of lowest common denominators, and resulting in the subsequent formation of an ideal leader.


The key ideas of "How to Lead"

Leaders can be extremely different kinds of people, but they all share some common traits
Many leaders have been able to seize opportunities created by luck
To be a leader you need to know how to react positively to defeats
Prominent personalities often have an explosive combination of ambition and tenacity
To become a leader, you need to work hard but the most important thing is to have passion
Rather than ever feeling like they have made it, a true leader strives to continue learning
Listening, humility, and recognising your team’s worth are important tools used by all leaders
When they reach the top, true leaders start trying to make the world better
Take-home message
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