Who do you think of when you think of a leader? The answers are always so predictable. In politics we think of leaders like Lincoln, Churchill, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, JFK, Nelson Mandela, Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, to name a few. Each of these people is identified with reordering the political, economic and social order. In business we look to Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Jack Welch, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, who have each left a lasting imprint. Oprah, Martha Stewart, Meg Whitman, Sheryl Sandberg and Marissa Mayer are identified with transformative business models, and the current Pope and Mother Teresa are symbols of spiritual hope and guidance for millions.
But while we can mostly agree on the accomplishments of these great leaders, we actually know very little about how they got to become great leaders and even less about how we can emulate them.