"At the age of seven, a young boy and his family were forced out of their home. The boy had to work to support his family. At the age of nine, his mother passed away. When he grew up, the young man was keen to go to law school, but had no education.
At 22, he lost his job as a store clerk. At 23, he ran for state legislature and lost. The same year, he went into business. It failed, leaving him with a debt that took him 17 years to repay. At 27, he had a nervous breakdown.
Two years later, he tried for the post of speaker in his state legislature. He lost. At 31, he was defeated in his attempt to become an elector. By 35, he had been defeated twice while running for Congress. Finally, he did manage to secure a brief term in Congress, but at 39 he lost his re-election bid.
At 41, his four-year-old son died. At 42, he was rejected as a prospective land officer. At 45, he ran for the Senate and lost. Two years later, he lost the vice presidential nomination. At 49, he ran for Senate and lost again.
At 51, he was elected the President of the United States of America.
The man in question: Abraham Lincoln."
– Author Unknown
Many of us are acquainted with this eloquent example of persistence and determination in achieving victory. We read it, stop for a moment and then sigh and say: "Wow! That's the stuff real leaders are made of."
And in saying this, it's all too easy for us to think about leaders like Lincoln almost as "mythological creatures", separate from the rest of humanity and empowered by some mysterious quality that smoothes their path towards inevitable success. This is the view of leadership that many people have traditionally taken: That leaders are marked out for leadership from early on in their lives, and that if you're not a leader, there's little that you can do to become one.
However, that's not the way we see it now. The modern view is that through patience, persistence and hard work, you can be a highly effective leader.
This section of Mind Tools helps you start finding and developing these leadership qualities within yourself.
Our first tools help you assess your current leadership skills, and explore your motivation to lead – without a strong motivation to lead, you'll struggle to improve your skills or become an effective leader. However, if you HAVE to lead even if you lack an intrinsic motivation to do so, our Leadership Motivation Tools article gives you some useful techniques you can use to build your motivation.
We move on to look at how you can harness ethical sources of leadership power, and think about the many different ways in which you can choose to lead. With these articles, you'll learn how to identify useful leadership styles... and spot approaches that will probably fail.
We round the articles out by looking at, among others, the popular subject of emotional intelligence; and we'll see how developing it can help you become an exceptionally successful leader.
To follow these articles in sequence, click the "Next Article" links below each one. Enjoy this section of Mind Tools!
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