Great leaders have a vision. They know where they're going. They surround themselves with people who are experts in areas they are not, and listen to them. And they motivate others to achieve their vision.
"You have to have a vision of a better tomorrow, which means a leader has to be optimistic," said 43rd U.S. President George W. Bush. "You've got to truly believe in your soul that where you're headed is going to make people's lives better, or the world peaceful."
In a wide-ranging interview with ASIS International CEO Peter J. O'Neil, President Bush shared his insights on leadership, lessons learned while in the White House, and current affairs with ASIS 2017 attendees Monday morning.
However, the two continued to return to the theme of leadership and the role of the president to lead the United States in trying times, such as during Bush's tenure in the days after the 9/11 attacks. The recovery and response after the deadliest terror attack in U.S. history pushed President Bush's leadership abilities to the forefront, and reminded him of the importance of listening to the team of experts around him.
"Leadership means trying to understand what someone else is saying; leadership means sharing the credit and taking the heat when things go bad," Bush added. "Leadership means building a culture not around a person, but around a concept greater than a person, and I always found that leadership meant having a workplace where people felt free to laugh."
The 43rd president also said that current global leaders can learn from those who've held office before, during even more difficult periods in history—such as Abraham Lincoln during the U.S. Civil War.
"It's important to keep life in perspective; Lincoln was president during a civil war," President Bush added. But he stayed true to his vision that the country must be united—not separated into two nations—to remain the United States and create what he calls "the greatest force for good."