Thursday, July 3, 2008

Leadership Lessons From 1776

As you can see by the quote on the left hand side of this page, I’ve always thought that the revolutionary war heroes and George Washington in particular, were wonderful examples of leadership.

The emergence of the “Founding Fathers” and their commitment to uniting 13 separate states and inspiring millions of independent thinkers is the stuff that legends are made of – and a prototype for today’s executives to learn valuable leadership lessons.

Then and now …

The Definition

As that band of patriots showed, leadership is about rallying people around a common purpose. They articulated a vision that others saw, believed in and followed. The same holds true today.

The Skills

While historians might be able to make a case that Washington was innately qualified to lead, the same certainly cannot be said about Hamilton, Madison or even John Adams. Leadership is a learned skill - the more you practice and strive to master it, the better you’ll be.

The Qualities

Warren Bennis, currently credited as the guru of leadership study, cites five key qualities found in most of today's successful leaders that perfectly describe George Washington – integrity, dedication, magnanimity, humility and creativity. Some things never change.

The Traits

High energy, superior communication and the ability to motivate people were traits exhibited by all the Founding Fathers. Without these same attributes in our ensuing leaders and titans of industry, it’s unlikely that the United States of America could have come this far.

The takeaway - 1776 is a remarkably contemporary example of what leadership is all about in 2008.

Enjoy the holiday!

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