“Think and Grow Rich” for the Modern Business Leader

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Journalist Napoleon Hill’s 1937 book “Think and Grow Rich” outlined what Hill’s research found to be the traits most commonly shared by the successful business leaders of his day. Hill used the skills he learned in advisory positions for powerful leaders – including US Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Delano Roosevelt – to launch a career as a motivational author, outlining the commonalities between the successful men he advised. By the time Hill died in 1970, “Think and Grow Rich” had sold over 20 million copies, making it one of the best-selling books of all time.

Much has changed in the business world since Hill questioned magnates like Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford, and Charles Schwab on their habits and leadership styles, but today’s great corporate leaders also share several qualities which help them inspire their workers and spur their companies on to ever greater successes. Cultivating these five qualities should be a top priority for anyone who wishes to become an inspiring and successful leader.

  • Vision. In the corporate world, vision means more than simply having a dream of success; a leader must have a solid plan for growth and success, as well as the ability to communicate that plan to others and to get them excited about it.
  • Optimism. Even in uncertain economic times, a leader should always have a positive attitude and should be able to inspire others to keep on the path and follow their vision. An inspiring leader leaves employees feeling energized, not drained, after meetings.
  • Empathy. Strong leaders are genuinely interested in the welfare of others. Helping to guide employees through challenging times and inspiring them to reach their own potential, rather than assigning blame and making grievances personal, are crucial to solid leadership. Employees who feel their employer genuinely cares for them will be more productive and will be more effective brand ambassadors even when they’re off the clock.
  • Accountability. Great leaders know the buck stops with them, and they hold themselves responsible not just for their own performance, but that of the whole company. They are generous with their praise when things are going well, and work together with their employees to identify and resolve problems quickly.
  • Decisiveness. As the head of a company, a strong leader needs to be unafraid to make tough decisions that won’t always be popular. Inspiring leaders realize that consensus building is important, but that sometimes it’s necessary to act unilaterally for the good of the business.

At Lake Forest Graduate School of Management, we provide tools to enhance leadership skills for effective business management. Learn more about our flexible MBA programs.


Barbara L. Siegel



Manish Shah
Senior Director, R&D and Innovation and Adjunct Professor of Management,
Lake Forest Graduate School of Management


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