You came here for examples of being a leader. I would like to say that one person in fact serves as multiple examples of great leadership. His name was Herbert Keller, and he was the original CEO and founder of Southwest Airlines. I studied him for my final project in my undergraduate studies and graduate studies because he answered an important question, "What is a business executive?". Herb Keller led Southwest in what could be called a perfect season if you are sports fans. Southwest literally never failed in the 45 years that he had led them. The airline industry is famous for bankruptcies because it is hyper-competitive; however, Southwest never operated at a loss every single year.
Southwest was and is not just a company. The goal for the airline was to provide low priced flights to more cities: in his words he wanted "to democratize the skies" to make travel easy and affordable for every American. Herb Keller created a high-energy culture and Southwest is known for superb customer service, and it's because of the extensive buy-in that employees have.
Buy-in is essential for any leader to achieve and Herb Keller and Southwest Airlines have created a culture of near-total buy-in. This is at the core of what makes a strong leader. Southwest is an airline an organization that believes that employees should have the freedom to learn and grow, have financial security, and have the freedom to create innovatively. In fact, Southwest Airlines had its logo designed by someone who wasn't an art director or a graphic designer whatsoever--it was one of their own employees. Southwest Airlines also has a great profit sharing program which rewards employees significant. And finally, Southwest Airlines never had a layoff in its history and never furloughed employees.
Herb Keller's leadership personality traits created a legacy in which he disrupted and transformed the airline industry and leadership in the 21st century. Herb Keller changed the perception from one of managers just training and supervising employees, to one of leaders motivating and making a fun-loving environment for all. According to Southwest, they have three values. The first is a warrior spirit: as an employee you must be fearless in terms of delivering the product by taking initiative and caring about customers when no one else is willing to.
There's a valid comparison for successful leadership vs effective leadership, the difference is in the heart. A servant's heart which means to treat others with respect and putting other people first. This works great because leaders earn the respect of everyone when they put the needs of others before their own. And a fun-loving attitude because what is the point if you are not having fun?
Seriously! I know it's strange to hear but I was told by one of my mentors once. I was having difficulty learning a task and was getting frustrated because I just didn't get it. My mentor told me to take a deep breath and say these words: "I am on the beach and I am relaxed" and then he told me to relax have fun because if you're not having fun, what's the point? When it stops being fun move on. What he was trying to tell me is that if I enjoy the work that I do, I will never quit and neither would the people around me.