8 Lessons in Leadership from Successful Entrepreneurs

In business, we’ve long known to look to the success of others to find wisdom and inspiration. And who better to look to than those who chart the course in innovation and leadership? For would-be leaders, we can all benefit from looking for our own leaders—not just in our fields of expertise, but from every arena.

Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.
— Elon Musk, founder and CEO of Tesla Inc., SpaceX, and Neuralink

Lesson 1: Embrace failure.

The fear of failure is one that we all experience. We don’t want to fail. However, every entrepreneur knows that failure is an essential part of the journey to success. They know that without failure, you cannot learn, grow, or truly innovate. Never play safe on the road to success.

As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.
— Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, Philanthropist

Lesson 2: Leaders lift others up.

Leadership is not about calling the shots—it’s about inspiring people to be the best that they can be. Ideally, you’re not just bringing success to yourself and your own business endeavors, but you are allowing others to stake a claim in their own success.

The biggest risk is not taking any risk. In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.
— Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder and CEO of Facebook

Lesson 3: Risk is vital to success.

Risk, like failure, is a necessary component to success. What can we gain if we aren’t risking anything? As an investor and entrepreneur myself, I know what risk looks like. It can be scary—but without risk, there is nothing to truly gain. Anything worth having is worth risking for.

The job of a manager is to support his or her staff, not vice versa, and that begins by being among them.
— Bill Hewlett, co-founder, former president and CEO of Hewlett-Packard Company

Lesson 4: Effective leaders support and engage their team.

Leaders were not meant to sit high on a throne, disengaged and sending down orders from on high. They are meant to engage, delegate, and advise. Whether you’re managing a single team or in charge of an entire company, effective, true leaders support their teams and are a part of those teams. Not separate.

It’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen.
— Scott Belsky, co-founder of Behance

Lesson 5: Generate ideas, then execute ideas.

Being able to generate good ideas is great. But in order to be effective as a leader and entrepreneur, we have to be able to put those ideas into motion, too. Can you get from point A to point B? You have to be able to dream big and make big things happen.

There’s lots of bad reasons to start a company. But there’s only one good, legitimate reason, and I think you know what it is: it’s to change the world.
— Phil Libin, CEO of Evernote

Lesson 6: Think bigger.

What are your goals? Are you thinking big enough? Are you doing something that you truly believe in? Entrepreneurs have vision. And they have grand, big vision that moves and changes the world. They aren’t content with just making money or just being okay at what they do. They want to shake industries and change the world. If only we all thought so big!

Always deliver more than expected.
— Larry Page, co-founder of Google

Lesson 7: Go above and beyond.

These days, it seems like customer service is a dying art. It doesn’t mean it goes unnoticed, though. One of the best ways any business can stand out is by having good customer service. Provide excellent services and treat people well and you will go far. Whether it’s outward-facing (your customers) or inward-facing (your employees), deliver the very best.

Timing, perseverance, and ten years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success.
— Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter

Lesson 8: Success takes time.

From the outside looking in, some of the titans of entrepreneurship seem like overnight successes. But, we know that their way was paved with long nights and failures and heartache and a lot of pain. Success never comes easy. Sometimes there's luck, but there’s a lot of hard work involved.

Are you willing to do the work?

What’s your favorite piece of wisdom from an entrepreneur or business icon? Let me know in the comments.