A job in management can be one of the biggest challenges of your professional life. You are juggling many of the hats you already wore, while balancing the additional, heavy, complicated hat of making sure that your team is productive, balanced and happy. The exhaustion and self-doubt that can result from hardships in your position of authority are enough to end a sterling management career before it even has its heyday. So what do you do when you find yourself teetering slightly on the edge of complete frustration and lack of confidence in your abilities to lead? You read some inspirational leadership lessons and get back at it, of course. And who better to inspire the fledgling leader in you than some of the original leaders of our country, our great past Presidents?
We’ve compiled a quick list of some of the best leadership lessons from some of our greatest Presidents to help give you the spark of confidence you need to lead like a pro.
“We should not look back unless it is to derive useful lessons from past errors, and for the purpose of profiting from dearly bought experience.”
Commonly called “The Father of America,” George Washington was a phenomenal leader who had an unparalleled vision for the potential of our nation. This, one of his best-known quotes, is easily applicable to your role as a manager in that it encourages perspective, the kind that will yield positives from any situation that arises. Not only will cataloging your past failures help you to revise your future approaches to the same problem, but failures or misfires give you opportunities to improve your interactions with your employees and your abilities to communicate with them during times of distress. Also contained in this quote from our great first President is some equally important advice: Don’t let your past failures haunt you. Dwelling on your mistakes will only throw a wrench in your confidence and productivity as a manager. Unless you use your mistakes as a positive lesson, you won’t reap any positive benefits.
“As our case is new, we must think and act anew.”
Few things can be said about Lincoln that don’t include his visionary approach to leadership. And the quote above reflects Lincoln’s beliefs that changing, as the times change, is both necessary and good. This lesson is invaluable when it comes to managing because it reminds you of the importance of being flexible, assessing the changes, whether environmental, societal or technological, that are affecting your business and molding your management style to be both accommodating and welcoming. Clinging to tradition is only effective in a few arenas; in the age of information, being willing to get up and go with the swing of things is one of the most valuable assets a manager can acquire.
“Believe that you can, and you’re halfway there.”
Something that many leaders and managers can forget in the hustle of demands that comprise their jobs is taking the time to establish an unshakeable self-confidence. Few things can poison your performance quite like self-doubt, and when you’re a manager, you’re self-doubt is far more visible and affects far more people. Theodore Roosevelt said it best with the quote above: when you’ve decided to believe in yourself and your abilities as an effective leader and manager, and you’ve knocked out a ton of the work that it takes to actually manage. Remind yourself that you got the job for a reason, but keep in mind that you are responsible for a group of people who depend on you to help them do their jobs better. It’s a lot of responsibility, but believing you can do it is a huge part of juggling all of them beautifully.
Effective managing will likely never get easier, but keeping a few inspirational leadership quotes in the back of your mind for the days when your position really challenges you is an easy and comforting way to stay on track and keep on trucking.