Since former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher died on April 8, commentary has been flowing in from around the world. Much of it has been positive, paying tribute to a passionate and dedicated leader who had the interests of Britain in her heart. There has been criticism as well, of a rigid and unwavering leader who ruled with an iron fist and did not suffer fools gladly.
Whether you were or weren’t a fan, you can’t deny she achieved formidable success despite considerable backlash, both within her own party and externally. She came out with some cracking quotes in her time – many of them shine a light into just how she managed to get what she needed and wanted.
For today’s business leaders, these quotes provide relevant lessons for future success
“Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.”
Through training, self-reflection and experience, people can become good leaders, but only others can elevate them to greatness. If you have to prove to people that you’re as strong, powerful and forward-thinking as you really wish you were, they’re going to have a hard time believing it. The best leaders are those that make their own self-development a labour of love and commit to leading the company in the most effective, nurturing way. That’s the path to being a great leader.
“I love argument, I love debate. I don’t expect anyone just to sit there and agree with me, that’s not their job.”
Businesses that are run on fear of those at the top are one decision away from failure – all it takes is one poor decision or idea that no-one speaks out against and the company is on a slippery slope to oblivion. Successful businesses recognise that people are paid to think in the best interests of the company and that if that brings them into conflict with those at the top, that should be admired rather than stymied. Companies can be melting pots of differing viewpoints, ideas, knowledge and skills – but what’s the point of building a talented workforce if people are scared to speak up?
"Nobody would remember the Good Samaritan if he had only good intentions. He had money as well."
Ethical organisations will define success in the future as consumers demand to do businesses with companies that care. Overly profit-driven businesses will dry up, but at the same time, companies can’t exist on ethics alone. Finding the right balance is a major task for businesses – the right combination of ethics and sustainable profit is a force to be reckoned with. In the future, neither one will work by itself. But together, they can drive growth, success and engagement as long as they remain aligned.
"We can do business together.”
Such a simple phrase, but reflective of an important attitude. Sometimes there are two businesses that have nothing in common. But for most, there will be a way to create added value that couldn’t be achieved working alone. And in a world where competition is increasing, businesses must grab any competitive advantage they can. This quote is simple reinforcement of an essential attitude – never be defeatist and always look for an edge.
“If my critics saw me walking over the Thames they would say it was because I couldn’t swim.”
Some people are impossible to please. Detractors especially so. Jealous people even more. One of the most important qualities of success is separating constructive criticism from personal attacks and vindictive comments designed to sow the seeds of doubt. Constructive criticism is essential – no person is an island and all have their own biases, flaws in logic and skill gaps. But some people talk only to be mean, and at these points you need to maintain focus and remain strong – after all, what is success other than deflecting negativity and following through with your goals and desires?
Image copyright: Chris Collins, Margaret Thatcher Foundation.