In Search Of Great Leadership – Wisdom Discovered

According to wisdom literature, learning from important and meaningful life experiences can foster wisdom. Leading others is one such experience. Wisdom can be gathered. Wisdom can be learned or gained. Wisdom cannot be taught. Wise people have accurate, perceptive insights into human behavior and understand how things work and have learned what they know from real-life experience, not from academic study.  As they succeed and fail, the most attentive of them learn from the results. The history of business is thus the story of entrepreneurs, executives, leaders, and employees, lurching from one experimental answer to another. They gain expertise and acumen, and profits and revenues, and, along the way, add to the theory of management. And most importantly, they are prepared to “give back” by openly sharing their authentic “wisdom of experience.”

Wisdom Sought – In Search Of Great Leadership

Not long ago, we reached out to a select group of seasoned leadership professionals seeking answers to a series of ten questions (see our above Article) – all in an effort to gain authentic insights into a singular, profound question:

How Do You Become A Great Leader?

What follows here are highlights of an extraordinary collection of priceless “lessons learned” gleaned from their remarkable “in the trenches,” real-life experience. Grab your coffee, take a long break, and capture some genuine “wisdom of the ages” as you stroll through this invaluable career dossier. Keep it as a handy reference. And then pay it forward by sharing this with your colleagues. Only then will you be on the long and winding road to becoming a Great Leader.

1. Did anyone have a tremendous impact on your leadership journey and if so, how?

  • One of my earliest bosses was a terrific woman who seemed never afraid to speak up for what she knew to be right and always held us to the highest standard of performance, even when “good enough” would have been OK.
  • My father had a huge impact, showing me the importance of humility, care for others, and a commitment to excellence. My Mom also impacted me, in that she shared her love for Jesus with me, who has become my ultimate model of leadership for me. 2. Who to hire. Building a dream team is so important. Bring people on board who are in alignment with the organization’s values and culture. 3. Be clear on their boundaries and then encourage them for the great work they are doing. Emphasize how important it is to the company for them to bring their creativity and innovation to work every day. 4. The best way is to model the way every day. But don’t leave that to chance. Be very clear from their first day on the job what the expected values and behaviors of all employees are. Share stories with them on how people have played out the values in their work. 5. Who is most aligned with the organization’s purpose and values. 6. Humility 7. Staying focused on the most important aspect of their job – People. A leader should spend the majority of their time on building and developing people and the culture of the organization. 8. Thinking that their job is to provide answers. It is not. Their job is to build leaders. You do this by staying curious, asking questions, and allowing people to develop. 9. Be patient. Know that becoming a great servant leader is a journey. Continue to work and develop your skills and seek out help and mentors to aid your journey and development. 10. Helping people to achieve their God-given talent and dreams.
  • An old respected boss always told me “make it the best you can at all times”. Seems simple enough but too few follow this advice. Customers will notice and appreciate your efforts to provide the best products and services.
  • Many people affected me—both positively and negatively. You learn from both—those who are good leaders and those who have the title but not the attributes of leadership. Coaches, superiors, business colleagues, and students—among others—have influenced me in these ways.
  • There have been many people that have had a tremendous impact on my leadership journey. Those that have taught me through their example in both a positive and negative way. Everyone is our teacher…it is our job to learn from every person, every situation, and strive to be the best we can be.
  • In addition to some highly qualified and successful individuals that vigorously contributed to my growth and development through student years to ‘dream’ retirement (Freedom 55), I would give utmost credit to ‘adversity.’ Without this single most forceful factor chasing me to no end, I would not be where I am today.
    Adversity taught me many things, prominent being:
    • Know your position in the society, let no one steal it.
    • Keep building on what you got; there’s always a lot more waiting to be achieved.
    • Challenges are yet another milestone.
    • Be positive until your last breath as it could have been much worse.
    • Our Dear Lord gives His toughest tests to the hardiest of His subjects; be one of those to get closer to Him
    • Share what you learn and put knowledge to use.
    • It is easier to have a closed mind; positive thinking takes courage, persistence, and faith in your own self above all else.
  • Like most people, I was blessed to have many great leaders impact my development. I say “like most people” because the great influences are always there, but we have to be open to them. The inspiration provided by historical figures such as Socrates, Alfred the Great, Thomas Aquinas, Abraham Lincoln, and many others, continues to shape my thinking and commitment. Family and friends also influenced me greatly, as did several outstanding teachers. In my business career, the CEO at the first advertising agency I worked for had a massive impact on my leadership development, through his integrity, knowledge, wisdom, and compassion. But far and away the greatest impact on me in terms of leadership has been Jesus Christ, who gave us the concept of servant leadership.
  • My leadership has been impacted the most from working under poor leaders. I have seen how their leadership negatively influenced my motivation, morale, and creativity.
  • At the start of my career, I worked with many who were leaders because they had “reverent” power. They had this power, not because of politics, but because of what they knew and how they applied what they knew. Their knowledge was in methodologies, technologies, and risk management. Depending on the situation the appropriate leader on our team would step up and lead us through the impending uncertainty. I became a leader via trial by fire because I worked on many teams like this. I had no choice but to step up.
  • My old boss at AT&T had an impact on me because he never lost his temper (except maybe on the golf course). He worked the problem and never pointed fingers or blame on any of his subordinates.
  • Being involved in a large international women’s organization I was exposed to some very impressive leaders and one in particular, impressed me every time she spoke or handled a situation. I was inspired by her dedication, her people skills, and her wonderfully amazing presentation skills. She encouraged me to do a number of projects and ultimately her support led me to become a leadership trainer for the organization and that training was finally turned into my current soft skills consulting business.
  • The many wonderful leaders I worked within the Marine Corps – standouts include Rich Amano, Sam Flores, Chuck Ducharme, Ron Kiwi, RJ Wallace, Luke Crowson, and Bo Pennock. These leaders showed me what good leadership should look like, taught me to think like a leader, and most importantly, allowed me to fail so that I could grow as a leader.
  • Ultimately, what turned me into a good leader was maturity and experience. I always had the initiative and drive to lead, but the compassion came later. The people who influenced me were bosses who proved to be effective leaders.
  • Father, ServiceMaster old Leadership


Dennis Pitocco
Dennis Pitocco
DENNIS is the Founder & Chief ReImaginator of 360° Nation, encompassing a wide range of multimedia enterprises, including BizCatalyst 360° —the award-winning global media digest; 360° Nation Studios —dedicated to reaching across the world in an effort to capture, produce, and deliver positive, uplifting messages via blockbuster global events, and; GoodWorks 360° —a pro-bono consulting foundation focused entirely on providing mission-critical advisory services to nonprofits worldwide. Collaborating with his Chief Inspiration Officer (and wife), Ali, everything they do is "for-good" vs. "for-profit". Their mission over the past decade-plus has been to rediscover humanity at its best, influencing and showcasing it every step of the way. Together, they do their very best to figure out what the world is trying to be —then using all their resources to help it to be better every day in every way. They understand and embrace the notion that it’s not about me or you; it’s about caring for the people we serve and more responsibly stewarding the precious resources in our care. And they believe it’s about showing up, being present, and intentionally giving our invaluable gifts of time, talent, and treasure "for good". Dennis is a contributing author to the Best-Selling Books ♦ Chaos to Clarity: Sacred Stories of Transformational ChangeJourney Well, You Are More Than EnoughThe Four-Fold Formula For All Things Wellness: True Stories of the Heart, Spirit, Mind, and Body.

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  1. Interesting article, as well as individual comments.
    I personally believe that a great leader is simply a leader who is “human.” This means that he should be nothing but who has the fears that have all, but deals with them; has the problems that have all, but manages them. Or at least test to do that and, precisely because he is human, manages to excite and involve. So, he do not have to fight the urge to be perfect but to simply be human, recognizing own vulnerability to experiences as the shame, judgment, reprimand, asking in order to learn. Admit his own limitations is the key to everything, is a sign of courage and ability to collaborate.
    Anyway, in general, between “head” in the strict sense and the figure of the leader there are infinite shades. True leadership comes from who you are, not only by what you say or do. You need to drive back to the people and not just focus on the tasks to be performed and on the tasks to manage. The best way to do this is to always act according to their own values, always leaving something “positive” when it comes into contact with others. Offer their time and expertise as well as a smile, a sincere advice, help, idea, or dream. If these small gestures will not automatically make you a leader, I am firmly convinced that it is the most effective way to begin to be.

  2. I’m in the process of putting together a leadership development checklist for post graduate students. I found that if you focus on how the history of leadership theories have developed over the last two hundred years, you get a really good idea of how to be a good leader. Just examining the changes in the assumptions is a real eye opener. It starts out as to be a leader you must be born as one. Then it ends with leaders are not born, they’re made. There is a heck of a lot of interesting things in between.

    • No doubt your checklist would be a great tool to share here, Chris. And indeed, the History of Leadership Theories is a great reference, when supplemented by genuine “wisdom of experience” as shared by so many remarkable professionals within this Article. Thanks for engaging!

  3. In a far away land many many years from now archeologist while exploring the ruins of an old city they will find this list. They will be excited that they have found an ancient book of knowledge. They will herald this as the greatest find in history. They will quote the great chairman Dennis and all his worldly scribes.

  4. Congratulations, Dennis Sir, for this amazing initiative, not just for the Group Members but also all the Columnists and Featured Contributors to learn from each other!

    All the Very Best to All Involved!

    Thanks and Warm Regards

  5. Your concept in putting this together, Dennis, was in itself a stroke of genius and a practical example of great leadership. You are doing a great work not only for business leaders and their teams but also for society at large.

  6. Leaders inspire. Leaders are inspired. It’s not just the people in our lives or our personal experience that inspire us, it’s the stories too. We have a need to not only be part of the story, we want to reenact the story as well. How many leaders today were inspired by Shakespeare, tales of King Arthur, Superman, and even “The Reign of the Superman”?

    Though just stories, these stories inspire us to be great leaders by giving us a visual and sound bite of what a leader really is. One quote tattooed in my memory is

    This above all: to thine own self be true,
    And it must follow, as the night the day,
    Thou canst not then be false to any man.

    Though in the play Hamlet, Polonius was a fool, he gave such insightful advice; that the value of advice is not determined by the source; and that cannot be honest with others until you’re first honest with yourself.

  7. Great accumulation of thoughts and opinions.

    I have always found it interesting that when you ask a great leader is he/she is such, invariably he says probably not. That is often followed by “I just try harder than the average bear”. I guess that confirms the humility comments. When one thinks they are great, effort to improve stops and decline begins.