Great leaders speak on how to address and overcome difficulty

John Sherman

While some people are very comfortable in supervising and guiding a team of people when things are going smoothly, few are as comfortable when things begin to go wrong. It’s when things are difficult that we can begin to tell just who the great leaders are as we get to see what they are really made of. Many of the greatest names in history have shown attributes that help to make up the profile of a truly great leader.



Genius is 1% talent and 99% hard work… – Albert Einstein

Even when Einstein began to emerge as a scientist he made some key errors that could have caused many other people to give up, but not Einstein. His determination and tenacity to prove to people that he was right eventually came through and his theory of relativity and other work is now a cornerstone of modern physics.

Decision making

I never worry about action, but only inaction. – Winston Churchill.

The decision made by Winston Churchill to challenge Hitler which led to Britain going to war with Germany in WWII was perhaps one of the most difficult decisions that any leader is likely to face. Still, Winston Churchill made the decision and not only did he make it, he did so with conviction.

Throughout the war, Churchill continued to make difficult decisions, making himself a leader that the nation could rally behind in such a difficult time. If it were not for Churchill’s willingness to make such a difficult decision then Britain’s resistance may have been weaker, and the world as we know it could be a very different place.

Learning from mistakes

I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work. -Thomas Edison

Mistakes happen and even the greatest leaders are not infallible. When something does go wrong, and regardless of who is at fault, one sign of a great leader is to learn from the mistake and use it as a valuable lesson to help ensure similar mistakes are not made again in the future. A great leader might even recognize that making mistakes can be considered to be a positive because it gives the opportunity to learn something valuable.


If the chips are down and there are problems that need to be solved then a great leader will know how to delegate certain tasks to certain people that are best suited to get the job done. In the right circumstances, it might even be best to appoint certain people to a supervisory role so that they can pass on their knowledge and experience to help get the job done. Delegating correctly helps to increase man-hour efficiency as it helps to make sure that people are doing the roles that suit them best. It also helps to make sure that all resources at their disposal are put to their best use.

Any team is likely to have some people that have something positive to contribute so in addition to delegating, it can also be very important to listen to what others have to say. Any one of your team could have a solution that will make and difficult task easier to overcome.

Keeping composed

One essential attribute that helps to make a great leader is to look for ways to fix things even when times are tough. Being able to keep a calm head and think things through properly rather than panicking and losing composure can help a great leader to come up with solutions to a problem. Composure can also help a great leader to persevere, while also inspiring those around them to keep on going with a positive attitude no matter how tough it may be.

Another great aspect of remaining composed is that when others see that the person in charge is calm, it is likely to help them to keep calm also. With a composed leader and a calm team behind them, productivity is likely to remain high, helping problems to be overcome.


One of the most valuable resources available to any leader is the manpower at their disposal, and a great leader will know how to get the best from those that are following them. When things are challenging it is easy for some people to begin to doubt themselves and a great leader will be able to offer them encouragement to help them perform to their best. With a team that is working at their best difficult circumstances can be tackled much more effectively.

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