Amidst the cloud computing frothiness at Dreamforce this week were quite a few leadership lessons from, literally, some of the most successful leaders in the world. It was an honor to get to hear from these individuals and catch some of their time-tested lessons. Here are a few quotes that stood out to me:

Sir Richard Branson, founder, Virgin Group
“Most people are decent people. If you look for the best in them, life is so much richer and easier.”

“Life is short, you’ll see the same people over and over again, and they’ll want to work with you if you treated them well.”

“Be ready and willing to pull your competitor’s tail from time to time.”

Jeff Immelt, CEO, General Electric
“I have three tenets of leadership: 1) Be purposeful; 2) Always work on what’s important (most of us spend a lot of time on stupid stuff); and 3) Adaptability. These sound like basic things, but they’re so important and most of us aren’t good enough at them.”

General Colin Powell, former Secretary of State
“People want to believe in their leader, believe in what they’re doing.”

“I no longer use the word motivate, I use the word inspire.”

“People are drawn to leaders who have courage, who have character, and are selfless.”

“You really need to like people, and convey to them that we’re in this together. If you treat your people with that kind of approach, you will have a high performing team that will win. If you don’t treat them that way, they’ll undercut you every day and you’ll never know it.”

“Even the greatest of all strategists must take into account the presence of the enemy (because the enemy probably has great strategists too). Always be prepared for the unexpected, and be ready to admit that your great idea actually sucks.”