The Magic of Leadership: Observations From 10 of the Most Successful People in Business
A quest to understand how leadership decided the Super Bowl led to a trove of insights on this mysterious, admired trait.
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Going into Super Bowl 50 (thank you, NFL, for ditching Roman numerals), I had a hunch the Broncos would win. Even though the Panthers had an awe-inspiring, record-breaking quarterback in Cam Newton, and even though Peyton Manning was throwing one of the worst seasons of his career, it just made sense to me that the more experienced team would win. And they did.
My friend, sitting on the couch across from me, was totally dejected at the outcome. “The Broncos defense is just too good,” he lamented, munching sadly on the last slice of cold pizza. “The Panthers could have won if...nah, that defense was just too good.”
What really struck me about Super Bowl 50 isn’t so much that the Broncos won, but that they won despite Peyton Manning’s awful play. He now ranks 4th all time for worst passer rating among quarterbacks who won the Super Bowl. Yet, despite his errors, his team won by a comfy margin (24 to 10).
This got me thinking about leaders. If you want an easy “morale of the story” takeaway, it’s that the Broncos won because their leader didn’t have to carry his team. He just had to be Peyton Manning, one of the oldest, more polarizing quarterbacks in the NFL and someone you either love or hate. In either case, someone you can be confident in because of his track record of getting to the Super Bowl.
This got me wondering. What, exactly, does it take to be a successful leader?
In an attempt to answer this question, I combed through 300+ quotes from business leaders on what it takes to be a leader. In order to qualify for my shortlist, the person in question couldn’t be near the top of the current “richest people in the world” index (because you’ve probably read all their quotes already anyway), and they couldn’t be non-leaders (i.e., academics or authors). I also wanted to share quotes that were “unexpected” in some way.
Here are 10 of the more interesting, thought-provoking quotes I stumbled upon: