Leadership can be defined with so many phrases, in so many stanzas, by so many people — well-known or unknown. Their words can tug on the strings of so many individuals simply looking to be great at what they do in life.

As much as we would like to believe otherwise, not everyone can be a leader. And perhaps even more taboo to discuss, there are those in leadership roles who should be the worker bee rather than the queen.

Being a great leader is a process that some refuse to acknowledge.

Aristotle teaches us, "He who has never learned to obey cannot be a good commander." Henry Kissinger adds, "The task of the leader is to get their people from where they are to where they have not been."

As we further venture into the future and the transformation of the worker bee to the queen, leaders "will be those who empower others," according to Bill Gates.

The art of leadership is one where those in power truly understand that success not only of themselves but also of their followers ultimately rests on their shoulders. It's a scary concept if you really think about. But for leaders, fear of the unknown is nothing more than a phrase.

According to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, that fear is nothing but a distraction to the true leader, a proverbial blip on the screen of life and life skills.

"In this world," Longfellow said, "a man must either be an anvil or hammer."

Compromise, moderate, believe in you

So what makes a leader so great? One attribute, according to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., is having a sense of compromise. Gen. Colin Powell said a leader can overcome controversy and bickering within a group to ultimately reach that level of compromise.

"A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus," King said.

"Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand," Powell said.

Another attribute of a great leader is having the ability to look adversity in the face and own the consequence, rather than pawn it off on those following you. Whatever the negative scenario, leaders know that mistakes are a team's concern and not the fault of one individual, no matter the situation.

Gen. Douglas MacArthur once said, "A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others."

Per President Thomas Jefferson: "In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock."

A famous quote by President Abraham Lincoln can tell if someone has leadership potential. "Nearly all men can stand adversity," he said, "but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."

Which leads to a straight-to-the-point quote from Michael Jordan: "Earn your leadership every day."

'Leaders aren't born; they are made'

Are leaders born? Legendary NFL football coach Vince Lombardi doesn't believe so.

"Leaders aren't born; they are made," he said. "And they are made just like anything else, through hard work."

This is a good sign for those looking to be in leadership roles and looking to become elite at what they do. Part of the process, however, involves listening. Deference, or yielding to those who have come before you, is a valuable tool in becoming a leader.

"Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other," President John F. Kennedy once said.

As the individual learns to be a leader, he grows as a person. He learns how to treat others, how to react in negative situations and how to rebound when adversity strikes.

He also learns how to take risks for the good of his team, something that can be seen as difficult to do by some.

"Don't follow the crowd, let the crowd follow you," Margaret Thatcher said.

To which Winston Churchill added: "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts."

Leaders take on a lot, and it's understandable to be a little apprehensive. But when it comes to making things happen, these are not "microwave processes." In other words, results often times are not immediate.

But through the power of consistency and determination, a leader can become great. And with the right decisions (and the proper tutelage), your followers will thank you for your services.

"I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the water to create many ripples," Mother Theresa once said.

Presidential advice

Here are six additional quotes to live by from former presidents:

  • "You are not here merely to make a living ... You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand." — Woodrow Wilson
  • "The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things." — Ronald Reagan
  • "If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader." — John Quincy Adams
  • “People ask the difference between a leader and a boss. The leader leads, and the boss drives." — Theodore Roosevelt
  • "Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it." — Dwight D. Eisenhower

Don't just be a leader. Be a great leader. Be phenomenal. More importantly, be someone who makes others great.

Writer's note: The included quotes come from Inc., Enterpreneur and Forbes, along with personal research.