Will You Fail This Ultimate Leadership Test?

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What is it that defines a truly great leader? Why is it that names like Joan of Arc, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Mother Teresa resonate throughout history, while countless others are forgotten—or footnotes at best? How do you know when someone is a truly great leader?

How do you know if you are a truly great leader?

Here’s the test, and it may be a harsh one if you’re being honest with yourself:

Would your followers (your employees, your team members, your constituents) hold you up as a role model…for their own children?

Would the people you lead hold you up as a role model for their own children? #leadership Share on X

To take it even further, are you the type of leader that someone might one day want to name their child after?

I know—it’s a big question, right? But I’ll bet you know someone named Joan. Or George. Or Abraham. Or Teresa.

Just yesterday I read an article about Milton Hershey, the founder of the candy and food company that bears his name. I grew up very close to Hershey, Pennsylvania, and have been a fan of the company and their products all of my life. But I’m an even bigger fan of Milton Hershey, and this story will tell you why.

During the Great Depression, Milton Hershey went on a construction campaign to help revitalize his town. One of his projects was the Hotel Hershey. One day, Milton stopped by to watch the excavation. His foreman proudly showed off two brand new, gleaming steam shovels, saying, “These two machines can do the work of 40 men.” Hershey immediately replied, “Get rid of them. Hire 40 men.”

As a leader, Milton Hershey took care of his business, his people, and his community. And even though he died in 1945, people still look to him as a role model for themselves and their children.

Will the same be true for you 70 years after you’re gone?

As a leader, what kind of role model are you? #leadership Share on X

As a leader, you have responsibilities. You have to make money, you have to meet deadlines, you have to increase business. These are all important—vital, in fact. But perhaps your biggest responsibility, in the long run, is to be an example. To be the kind of leader—the kind of person—that others point to and say, “I’d like to be like that. I’d like my children to grow up to be like that.”

Take a look at the leaders around you. Which ones could you point to and honestly say, “I’d like my children to grow up to be like that”?

And now ask yourself: Are you that type of leader? Are you that type of person?

If your honest answer is no, then here’s a second question: What are you going to do about it?


About the Author:

29-time Emmy Award winner and Hall of Fame keynote speaker Bill Stainton, CSP is an expert on Innovation, Creativity, and Breakthrough Thinking. He helps leaders and their teams come up with innovative solutions — on demand — to their most challenging problems.
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