GOAT: The 10 Greatest Leaders Ever ― Let the Debate Begin
When someone mentions the words “greatest leader” what image comes to mind. Do you think of heads of state or business leaders? Do you think of someone you know personally?
No matter what image popped into your mind, in times of need, stress or strife, we look to our leaders to show us the way. In times of prosperity, we emulate our leaders and follow their lessons so we may maintain that success.
We have great global leaders who have dotted the pages of history. Leaders, both past and present that provide us with visions of how to become the best versions of ourselves. It is these leaders who show the best that humanity can offer.
Here are the 10 leaders that many consider the Greatest of All Time (G.O.A.T).
10. Stephen Hawking
While one may not immediately think of Stephen Hawking as having great leadership qualities, nothing could be further from the truth. He was blessed with unique intelligence. But what made him a leader was the continuation of his work after his unfortunate diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a rare neurological disease that ravaged his body.
He spent much of his life disabled and wheelchair-bound. But this did not stop him in pursuing an understanding of the universe around us. He continued until his final days to educate the public on the wonders of the universe that we live in.
Let this be a lesson to all of us – to keep pursuing your passions and following your dreams, no matter what hurdles come your way.
9. Abraham Lincoln
The 16th President of the United States was instrumental in joining the states together to form one nation. He was also responsible for ending slavery – which set a precedent all over the world. While slavery was practiced all over the world, Lincoln’s emancipation proclamation made the world wake up to the horrors of slavery. It created awareness in us that this brutality should never be returned to.
Needless to say, Lincoln was met with resistance during his presidency. One of the key aspects of leadership is to face resistance. You will have naysayers. You will have people who wish to bring you down. Stick to what you believe and focus on achieving and ignore the catcalls from the gallery.
8. Oprah Winfrey
Oprah is an icon among female entrepreneurs. From growing up in poverty to becoming a billionaire and owning a global media empire, her story is almost too good to be true.
But it is true, and it’s what lands her on our greatest leaders list. And it is her resilience that shows the best of what a human being can rise to. Next time you find yourself making an excuse as to why you cannot achieve something, think about Oprah. Think about the young African-American girl who grew up amongst torrid violence in rural Mississippi to the living legend she is today.
7. Mother Teresa
One of the greatest leadership qualities is to be charitable. And seldom will you find someone as charitable as Mother Teresa. Among her many great deeds was rescuing 37 children during a battle between the Israeli army and Palestinian guerillas. She was most known for her work in caring for children in the slums of Calcutta.
Leadership does not always have to be loud. It does not always have to be about conquering. It can simply be about caring. A great leader is one who cares for others and offers a helping hand to those in need.
6. Alexander the Great
Alexander III of Macedon, the King of the Kingdom of Macedon remains an iconic leader today and known as one of history’s greatest leaders and military minds. His father Philip II, once remarked that the Kingdom of Macedon was too small for Alexander’s ambitions. And thus, Alexander set out to conquer other parts of the world, ultimately conquering an empire that stretched from the Balkans to modern-day Pakistan.
One trend you will notice from all the leaders on this list is that they are admired all across the globe – even if their activism was only confined to one nation or region. Let this be a lesson for you as well. Think globally. Think about making an impact not only in your area but across the world.
Be a man or woman of influence. Be a role model for those who are familiar with you and those who are not. Go change the world. That’s what Alexander the Great did.
5. Winston Churchill
One of the United Kingdom’s greatest Prime Ministers, Winston Churchill lead the UK in fighting against Hitler and the Nazi’s during the Second World War.
Churchill teaches us to face our fears. He teaches us to always display an air of confidence. Even today, decades after his passing, he is seen as a figure of bravery and might. A good leader does not shy away from showing their strengths. If you have courage and valor – let the world know it!
The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.Winston Churchill
4. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
What makes MLK one of the greatest leaders ever? Simple, Dr. King dared to dream. He famously, dreamed of a world where we would be judged by the content of our character and not by the color of our skin. While racism still exists, he was instrumental in reducing racism and increasing equal rights and opportunities to people of all races.
While we must continue to fight against racism, let us not forget the second part of Dr. King’s message. Let us constantly improve the content of our character. Let us strive for excellence. A true leader is always attempting to improve themselves.
3. Nelson Mandela
The First President of post-apartheid South Africa was also one of the leading anti-apartheid fighters. His bravery was not just admired in South Africa but around the world. He taught us that as humans we are all equal. We are entitled to the same liberties and opportunities, regardless of our race.
For his fighting, Nelson Mandela spent 26 years in Robben Island Prison. In his autobiography, he details the harrowing experience of the prison. However, he remained strong and upon his release ran for election as the first President of the new South Africa.
He teaches us that even in the most harrowing conditions, we can maintain our faith and stay true to our goals.
2. George Washington
The First President of the United States of America remains an influential figure. He was the leader of the American Revolution and it is due to his vision that Americans enjoy the Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness that they cherish.
Washington preached self-reliance. It is this value that leads to independence. It is only those who are independent who can be true leaders. Remember, that before you lead others to make sure that you can lead yourself.
1. Mahatma Gandhi
You must be the change you wish to see in the world.Mahatma Gandhi
It was Albert Einstein who said of Mahatma Gandhi, “Generations to come will scarcely believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.” With his doctrine of nonviolence, Gandhi was successful in leading a revolution for the independence of India from the British Empire.
The principle of nonviolence was not an easy one. It is hardly easy to “turn the other cheek.” But by insisting on turning the other cheek, and that “an eye for an eye would make the whole world blind,” he taught us resilience. He taught us how to have dignity.
In this day and age where we are so easily outraged or driven to loath those with extreme views or views different than ours, it is wise to remember Gandhi’s lessons. Leading nations and living by example, this is what puts Gandhi on top of our list.
There are many more names that were in our list of greats, but this is the list that we landed-on after much debate. What does your list look like?
RECAP: The 10 Greatest Leaders Ever
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