9 Leadership Lessons From Gates, Buffett And More

Written by Andrew Nicholas on Oct 31, 2016

Every industry has men and women who combine vision, ambition and pure determination to build new companies, save failing ones from the brink of extinction and better others by inspiring and leading.

Leadership is about combining humility with direction, giving people a sense of purpose that inspires and motivates them to commit and achieve. But the demands on leaders are ever changing with geopolitical uncertainty and the digital revolution dramatically changing the global business landscape. Adaptation is key and to adapt you need to upskill, both yourself as a leader, and your team.  Only then can you hope to thrive in a changing environment and guarantee secure the long term success of the organisation that you lead. We touch on many of these changes in our popular Talent Gamble slideshare.

So what words of wisdom can you learn from those who have become accomplished leaders and helped others to achieve the same? Here are some valuable lessons on how you can lead well, achieve more and enjoy doing it.

Bill Gates and Warren Buffett – Business Leaders 

Even Bill Gates - one of America’s most successful businessmen still seeks leadership advice from others. In a recent interview with Warren Buffett, Gates outlined the three most important lessons he learnt from Buffet:

  1. Look at the big picture – when Gates first met Buffet he quickly learnt that the key to Buffet’s success ran deeper than picking and investing in stocks. Buffet always looked at the bigger picture of a business. Instead of focussing on the day-to-day details of the market, Buffett would look at overall growth.
  2. Be honest with shareholders – famously Buffett takes time every year to send a letter to his shareholders, a practice which inspired Gates to do the same. Gates’ key takeaway - transparency is highly appreciated.
  3. Value your time – Gates reminds us: “No matter how much money you have, you can’t buy more time.” Both Buffett and Gates make the effort to be available to their closest advisers and always find time to personally answer phone calls from them. Prioritise your time and spend it in ways that matter most to you – do not waste it in useless meetings.

Admiral Michelle Howard – US Navy

Admiral Michelle Howard knows what it means to lead the charge, currently sitting as the highest ranking woman in United States naval history.  She uses five different leadership principals:

  1. Be flexible – if you want to innovate, first take a hard look at yourself and be flexible about making changes.
  2. Be creative – make space for creativity; you never know what innovations this could lead to.
  3. Create routine – a morning routine can boost observation, not just efficiency.
  4. Learn from mistakes – an appreciation for the lessons of the past will help you better craft the future.
  5. Create a thriving culture – build an environment where employees can meet personal goals and they’ll strive that much harder for the professional ones too.

You can find more of Admiral Michelle Howard's leadership lessons here.

Mary Barra – Business Leader

Classed as Fortune’s Most Powerful Woman, Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, urges all leaders to: “Do something you’re passionate about, do something you love. If you are doing something you are passionate about, you are naturally going to succeed, and a lot of other things will happen that you don’t need to worry about. There are so many opportunities and choices that women can make or anyone can make about what they do. Do something you are passionate about because life is too short.”

What next?

To help you thrive in the corporate arena, take a look at our previous blog post here where we shared with you the five essential skills of a super leader. To learn more about nurturing and developing talent within your own business, download our ‘Hiring and Holding onto your Superstars’ e-book where we explore how you can maximise the performance of key leadership positions.

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