20 Unusual Leadership Quotes

Tecumseh, Native American leader of the Shawnee

Tecumseh, leader of the Shawnee


1) When the legends die, the dreams end; there is no more greatness. — Tecumseh

2) Each honest calling, each walk of life, has its own elite, its own aristocracy based on excellence of performance. — James Bryant Conant

3) The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ but ‘That’s funny…’ — Isaac Asimov

4) A leader is a dealer in hope. — Napoleon

5) The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers. — William Wordsworth

Bella Abzug in 1971, when she served in the House of Representatives and co-founded the National Women's Political Caucus

Bella Abzug in 1971, when she served in the House of Representatives and co-founded the National Women’s Political Caucus

6) Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud. — Maya Angelou

7) The test for whether or not you can hold a job should not be the arrangement of your chromosomes. – Bella Abzug

8) If something can corrupt you, you’re corrupted already.
Bob Marley

9) Beware of all enterprises requiring new clothes. — Thoreau

10) America would be a better place if leaders would do more long-term thinking. — Wilma Mankiller

11) The key to immortality is first living a life worth remembering. — Bruce Lee

12) The clash of ideas is the sound of freedom. — Lady Bird Johnson

13) Never wound a snake; kill it. — Harriet Tubman

14) I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma. — Eartha Kitt

Cesar Chavez, leader of the United Farmworkers Movement

Cesar Chavez, leader of the United Farmworkers Movement

15) In some cases non-violence requires more militancy than violence. — Cesar Chavez

16) I tried to drown my sorrows, but the bastards learned how to swim. — Frida Kahlo

17) Judgement comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgement. — Simon Bolivar

18) Leadership is how to be, not how to do. — Frances Hesselbein

19) It does not take a majority to prevail… but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men. – Samuel Adams

20) I won’t quit to become someone’s old lady. — Janis Joplin

The Nonprofit Branding Bandwagon

Nonprofit Branding BandwagonI first wrote about the branding bandwagon back in 2007, when it seemed that every large nonprofit I knew was  spending serious money — and I mean hundreds of thousands of dollars —  for corporate style tag lines, logos, commercial partnerships and strategies that they thought would attract media coverage and recognition from potential donors. At the time I complained that, while I understood the desire to stand out from the crowd, I  thought nonprofits’ embrace of corporate branding practices was unwise in terms of mission fulfillment. Positioning a charitable organization as a corporate brand might impress some people, I conceded, but that wouldn’t necessarily move a nonprofit toward its mission, and it might serve to undermine the credibility of other nonprofits working on the same cause.

Social Change Organizations

I still hold this view and believe it is particularly true for those organizations dedicated to cultural change and social justice. Changing the world is a big and costly job. There’s plenty of work to go around, so why fight one another? It’s ironic that nonprofits are the only organizations expected to collaborate with their “competitors.” Look behind that irony, though, and you will see that there is some logic to this. There are very few, if any, nonprofit organizations that have truly unique missions. Mostly, the differences are matters of strategy and tactics – various ways of reaching similar goals and producing goods and services that benefit society. Social benefits such as housing the homeless, fighting for voting rights or preserving wilderness are not generally things from which profits can be made. That’s why nonprofit organizations exist in the first place.

Cooperation vs. Competition

In business, competition clearly drives innovation and improvement, but we need to ask ourselves if the same is really true in the nonprofit sector. When multiple organizations share a similar mission – one that is difficult and costs money rather than generates profits – it seems smarter to cooperate rather than spend resources to outshine one another. I continue to question why nonprofits — and those of us who work with them — have jumped on the branding bandwagon with so little thought of the long-term implications. I suppose the reason is based on fear. Fear of missing out on a big donation. Fear of seeing a rival quoted instead of oneself. Fear of not having clout in the advocacy arena. Advocates think — hope — that branding will position them to win and, to be frank, we consultants encourage it.

But what if nonprofits didn’t give in to the fear? What if the best of them partnered to apply jointly for funding? What if they divided up chunks of work and didn’t duplicate things that others were already doing? What if nonprofits insisted on having models of marketing, branding and communicating that were not mere grafts from the corporate world, but were designed and built just for the nonprofit universe?

A New Model

When I first asked those questions, there wasn’t much around that didn’t come right out of a typical corporate brand book. Now there is much more research being done to identify marketing techniques and ways of work that preserve each nonprofit’s distinctions, yet resist the pressure to compete when competition is unproductive. Among them is a new nonprofit branding framework developed by Harvard researcher Nathalie Kylander. Called IDEA, an acronym that stands for Integrity, Democracy, Ethics and Affinity, the framework is featured in a book, The Brand IDEA, which Kylander co-authored with Julia Shepard Stenzel. It was released earlier this year by Jossey-Bass/Wiley. While I’m not entirely in love with this approach, I do think it has some constructive suggestions for nonprofit branding, particularly in its “Affinity” section.

You can read more about the role of branding in the nonprofit sector on the website of the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations at Harvard University and in the Spring 2012 issue of the Stanford Social Innovation Review.

5 Classic Business Books for Millennials

So you just landed a great job in Big Law. Or you finally found your dream job in fashion, or filmmaking, or software development. Maybe you became an accidental accountant, discovered you love retailing, or figured out a way to take that museum job and still pay your rent. Whatever your circumstances, if you work in an organization, there are five classic business books you must read.

Prior to anyone “leaning in” or “thinking like a freak,” these writers were sharing wisdom the old fashioned way. Each one of these business books for Millennials will help you better understand how organizations work and how you can be productive within them, whatever the trends and times.

Business Books for Millennials

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, 1936
Long before your parents were born (or even your grandparents!), Dale Carnegie was telling business people how to succeed. His number one “Big Secret“ — Make people feel important. Not only does Carnegie give readers a handful of straightforward tips for gaining influence, he even starts his book off with nine suggestions on how to get the most out of reading it. There is no better way to spend $14 than to pick up a copy.

The Effective Executive by Peter F. Drucker, 1966
Forgive the exclusive use of male pronouns and the underlying assumption that its readers are men. Drucker wrote this gem of a book back in 1966, before feminism’s second wave. It’s chock full of great tips and advice for ways you can be effective, even in a dysfunctional organizational environment. You do it by focusing on what you are able to affect and ignoring what’s beyond your sphere of influence. My favorite nugget: “Do first things first, and second things not at all.”

Gods of Management by Charles Handy, 1978
In this brilliant little book Handy, considered one of the world’s most influential living management thinkers, presents four models that describe basic organizational structures and cultures. Each model is named for a Greek god whose characteristics are associated with a particular type of organization. Once you understand the four types, you will have a very useful tool for quickly sizing up any organization you walk into. This is one of the best little tricks you will ever pull out of your tool kit.

On Becoming a Leader by Warren Bennis, 1989
If Drucker is the father of management (and he is), the late Warren Bennis is the father of leadership. This early book on the topic asserted a hopeful idea — leaders are made, not born. If you wanted to become a leader, Bennis showed you how. He bemoaned the short-term thinking of contemporary CEOs but in 2009 said he was optimistic about Millennials, calling you “the Crucible Generation” because of the global environmental challenges you face.

Comparing Millennials to his own “Greatest Generation,” Bennis wrote, “The truth may be that history, in its kindness, gave this new generation a grand crucible challenge, as it did my own. The young of today have been summoned to receive that same kindness through the collective failures of their elders.”

The Lexus and the Olive Tree by Thomas Friedman, 1999
When I finished the last page of The Lexus and the Olive Tree I knew one thing for sure: I would never read a newspaper the same way again. I didn’t mean that I would be using e-readers or apps; I meant that Friedman’s book had utterly changed the way I understood the world. It explained so much. The lay-offs and low wages. Crummy service jobs and cheap tee shirts. Why nothing was made in America anymore and why some people in the Middle East resorted to terrorism. Friedman’s analysis of globalization is still relevant, although I suggest that you temper his enthusiasm by reading another excellent book (almost a classic), Globalization and Its Discontents by Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz (2003).