All the attention of the current US presidential electioning has me reflecting on what is good leadership and is leadership aptitude enough or are there other factors?
I got to thinking about leaders I admire. Obviously I do not know these leaders personally, however, they are all leaders I’ve taken a keen interest in and followed their lives to varying degrees over the years. In this short, mini-series, I reflect on what appear to be factors that molded them as good, even great leaders. Leaders who the world is better for them having led. Leaders who finished (or are finishing) well. I may follow it with reflections on a few leaders the world may have been better without.
I invite you to join by sharing your own stories of leaders you admire and also by adding your reflections on
– Founder of The Body Shop
As a young woman she was happily running a small hotel with her husband. The Body Shop was birthed as a pragmatic response to a selfless act: They lived in England with two small children. Her husband, Gordon, had a dream of riding across America on horseback. The dream required him to be away for 2 years. Anita encouraged him to fulfil his dream, however, that left her with a dilemma. She knew she wouldn’t be able to run the hotel and fulfill her responsibilities as a mother if she was single parenting for 2 years. They sold the hotel and she started The Body Shop. In her book Body and Soul: Profits with Principles, she talks about the difficulties she encountered in the time her husband was away. What struck me about her life and how she grew as a leader was her constant outward focus. Her concern for the environment was genuine and shaped her policies – it also is a big part of what differentiated The Body Shop and contributed to their success. Travel broadened her exposure and her genuine empathy for those she met showed in her curiosity about their lives. Thus was birthed her fair trade. Her commitment to improving the lives of others by real trade (ie given fair price and gaining products of real value) again proved to be a significant differentiator and contributor to the businesses success.
As I reflect on Anita Roddick’s life I see a woman who lived true to her values even when it was tough, who didn’t allow ambition to swallow up the greater meaning of live and who built a global business by choosing the right partners (see more in the book) and by actioning, not just talking, about the greater good. She didn’t set out to be great, but became great through seeing and seizing opportunities for herself and others. She died in 2007 leaving behind a legacy within her family, her business and her social footprint to be proud of. We pay tribute to her life.