John Quincy Adams perfectly defined leadership

John Quincy Adams was our country's sixth president, the son of Abigail Adams and John Adams, our second president. This is one of the things he had to say on the subject of leadership:

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader."

In less than 20 words, he elucidated the essence of leadership. Let's dissect this simple declaration and take a look at each of its elements to see what we can learn about leadership.

"...Inspire others to dream more…"

Dreaming describes leaders imagining things that might be, that don't currently exist — whether it's a new product or service, a new entity, a new solution to a problem, a better process, or a healthier, stronger company, community or country. Dreaming in this context is the active and purposeful use of our imagination, our creativity and our intuition. Oftentimes, great leaders are called "visionaries" because they are comfortable exploring the unknown, thinking and sensing what might be possible, rather than being content with the status quo. Innovation and aspiration are a leader's metier.

"...Inspire others to learn more…"

Learning is one of the hallmarks of an inquiring mind, the active search for new knowledge and skills. Learning requires a willingness to move beyond familiar levels of understanding and being able to say, “I don't know all there is to know. I have something to learn." Leaders are continual learners, and their example of personal and professional growth can inspire others to do the same. Learning more also describes the leadership quality of having an open mind, genuinely believing that others' viewpoints and ideas are of value, seeking input and honest feedback.

"...Inspire others to do more…"

Leaders are energetic and productive and usually accomplish a great deal. They have systems for organizing and planning, and know how to work skillfully with others in an efficient and effective way. They know how to delegate, which is another aspect of productivity. They also accomplish more because they set high standards for themselves, and are not content with mediocrity. Again, example is the best teacher, and their willingness to work hard, be diligent, and persevere is a great example for others, who in turn want to make a greater contribution, to be part of making things happen

"..Inspire others to become more…"

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