THE BLOG

4 Exceptional Leaders To Learn from In Every Aspect of Life

Empowering the next generation of brilliant leaders by drawing inspiration from existing ones.

29/12/2017 04:58 SAST | Updated 29/12/2017 04:58 SAST
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On October 12, Jorn Lyseggen launched his new book, "Outside Insight: Navigating a World Drowning in Data". Lyseggen is a serial entrepreneur, patient investor and the CEO and founder of Meltwater and MEST (Meltwater Entrepreneur School of Technology). As well as leading two incredible organisations to success, he also has plenty leadership experience under his belt too.

For this reason, we dedicated October to Leadership Month. This was with the aim of empowering the next generation of brilliant leaders by drawing inspiration from existing ones -- and looking at how they've helped those who follow them.

1. Madiba

There are many different personalities that are perceived differently across the world –– or even within one small area. But there is one man, no matter where in the world you are or who in the world you ask, who is loved and admired.

Nelson Mandela's leadership qualities were unquestionable, and there is no controversy around how he changed the lives of the people who proudly believed in him.

When asked about what he thought made him an exceptional leader, Mandela replied with a memorable story about his childhood.

He said that when he was younger, he would occasionally follow and shadow his father in community meetings. His father was the chief of the tribe, and would always do the same thing when an issue arose -- he'd listen to everyone's opinions before saying anything.

"I learnt that leaders speak last," Madiba said. And it's harder said than done.

Today, this valuable lesson can be applied to any situation, organisation or business. A good leader knows how to listen to their community or team -- to make them feel that their ideas are valuable and that open conversation is important.

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Time magazines displayed with the portrait of Nelson Mandela on the cover page.

2. Simon Says

Simon Sinek is an entrepreneur, four-time bestselling author, marketing consultant and public speaker. If you haven't heard him speak before, do yourself a favour.

His talk How Great Leaders Inspire Action is listed as the third-most viewed TED presentation of all time, and it doesn't surprise us at all -- we especially love his YouTube video from this year, The Video That Will Change Your Life; it really has changed ours.

In his book, "Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don't", Sinek uses anecdotes from the Marine Corps, lessons from Apple, and tactics employed by Martin Luther King to explain what makes a great leader.

Sinek explains that within the U.S. Marine Corps are some of the bravest people on the planet. When asked why one had sacrificed his life for another, the reply is always "he would have done the same for me".

It is a leader's responsibility to make sure that their teams feel safe enough to sacrifice themselves (in business: perhaps a credit instead of a life) at any point without hesitation.

John Parra via Getty Images
Simon Sinek and Eric Schurenberg attend Inc. Magazine 35th Anniversary Party at Tourneau Time Machine on September 9, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by John Parra/Getty Images for Inc. Magazine)

3. Macro-Influencer

Actor and U.N. Women Global Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson makes our list of exceptional leaders due to her ability to inspire change. The 27-year-old is using her platform (9 and 3 quarters...) to speak out about gender inequality.

She is currently the face of HeForShe, a campaign for the advancement of equality for both men and women, and has recently started an open online book club, to inspire the world to read more and to encourage conversation and debate around literature. Her leadership qualities and emphasis on inclusivity and unity caught the attention of the United Nations, and today she is recognised as one of the most influential people in the world.

Watson teaches us that change can only happen when there is inclusivity, regardless of industry or cause.

Mario Anzuoni / Reuters
Actress Emma Watson accepts the Britannia Award for British Artist of the Year at the BAFTA Los Angeles Britannia Awards at the Beverly Hilton hotel in Beverly Hills, California October 30, 2014. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT)

4. The Intellectual

The serial entrepreneur, world-class leader, businessman, intellectual and public speaker Jorn Lyseggen is a leader we can all aspire to be like. He has a Masters in electrical engineering with a focus on artificial intelligence and signal processing, and began his career as a research scientist in AI before beginning his entrepreneurial journey.

He founded Meltwater in 2001, and in 2008 founded MEST (Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology), an entrepreneurial training programme, seed fund and incubator for African tech startups.

Now, with Meltwater headquartered in the tech capital of the world, Silicon Valley, and MEST expanding from its headquarters in Accra, Ghana, Lyseggen is certainly the leader whose ambition, intelligence and work ethic we can learn from.

In his new book, "Outside Insight: Navigating a World Drowning in Data", Lyseggen explains how the idea for Meltwater was conceived and how he, with his team, transformed a small media-monitoring enterprise into a global media intelligence company.

Today, Meltwater helps companies -- from small NPOs to large corporations -- make better, more informed decisions. Lyseggen is one of the first to use outside data, instead of internal data, and is thus revolutionising how we do business.

Jorn Lyseggen/ Twitter