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Great Leaders - Inspirational Lessons in Leadership

Who are the great leaders in history and what have they got to teach us today about the nature and practice of leadership? John Adair explores a wide range of inspiring leaders, from Lao Tzu and Machiavelli, to Thatcher and Mandela.


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This thought-provoking book, Great Leaders, is aimed at stimulating your curiosity and guiding you through the various facets of leadership. Leadership expert and author John Adair explores the topic through its many forms, posing the question:

Who are the great leaders in history and what have they got to teach us today about the nature and practice of leadership?

Leadership is a characteristic many think can't be taught; but to what degree can true leadership skills be identified and developed?

Adair reviews the key great leaders in history to identify the main lessons that should be learnt from them. What emerges is a concept of leadership that is highly relevant to the needs of the world today.

Great Leaders is a book rich in examples and case studies, and wide-ranging in scope. With a thematic structure, Adair illustrates the different facets of leadership including:

  • Knowledge
  • Communication
  • Decision-making
  • Inspiring while informing
  • Making progress in a changing world
  • Charisma
  • Women as leaders
  • Leaders for tomorrow

The very different styles of leadership of Lincoln, de Gaulle, Hitler, Socrates, Lao Tzu, Washington, Thatcher, Gandhi and many more are examined, focusing on the cardinal qualities of inspiring, communicating and decision making but also of humour, intuition and imagination.

Key qualities that so often appear as abstract ideals – motivation, communication, decision-making, inspiration – here almost literally come to life.

This training course is part of our collection of Leadership & Management Training Courses which focus on leadership, innovation, strategy, communication, finance, problem solving and conflict management, to name a few key areas.


‘Any of us who aspire to, and recognize the need for some form of leadership can only improve our performance by studying the past. John Adair’s latest book is a valuable addition to the thinking that has gone into the subject… I believe that it is a ‘must read’ book .. He is without doubt one of the foremost thinkers on the subject in the world.’

Sir John Harvey-Jones, leading industrialist and ex-CEO of ICI

‘I discovered once again how rare it is to come upon a book about leaders with depth, conceptual bite and historical context. It was a relief and a joy.’

Warren Bennis, major US management guru and writer

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Part One

  • Leadership through knowledge
  • Leadership skills
  • The servant leader
  • The ability to give direction
  • Making the right decisions
  • The art of inspiring while informing

Part Two

  • The roots of British tradition
  • The gentleman leader
  • Nelson
  • Polar explorers
  • Leadership in a changing world

Part Three

  • Charisma
  • Women as leaders
  • Styles of leadership
  • Leaders for tomorrow

Select bibliography


John Adair

John Adair is internationally acknowledged as having had a significant influence on management and leadership development in both the business and military spheres. He has seen military service, lectured at Sandhurst, worked extensively as a consultant, held professorships in Leadership Studies and authored critically acclaimed management and leadership books which have sold in their hundreds of thousands. He has lectured at conferences all over the world.

More details


ISBN 9781854189189

  • GBP 8.99 +VAT

Buy now
at Amazon UK


ISBN 9781854189172
376 pages

  • GBP 18.99

Buy now
at Amazon UK