Back in high school and college days, I spent an ample amount of time studying pre WWI history. I was always intrigue by the founders of our nation that were so brave to take that next step. Not that I agree with every action our forefather’s took, you will have to agree with me though, it took some guts though to accomplish laying the foundation 234 years ago for the country that we have today. I mean, how often do you find a Adams as theologian, Thomas as philanthropist, Washington as plantation owner and militia strategist, Franklin as scientists/inventor/writer,etc all in one room drafting one of the most unique documents of all times? I think if you had all of these people in the same room today would it be feasible to write a Declaration of Independence? Probably not! It would probably be a Declaration of Disaster…
Moving forward a few years, I often wondered what truly was rolling through Lincoln’s mind during the revolutionary time of our country. Someone had to manage the brewing conflict taking place in this new country, so I wonder what psychologist would say Lincoln’s primary strategy was for conflict management? For all these leaders, was it vision, frustration, anger, resentment of parliament, or the case of my ancestors – who were to outspoken and had to go somewhere – that called the leaders of this time to action? Very strong action?
Through my leadership studies, the driving force that I saw behind these individuals were a great amount of fuel for courage and a since brashness for tenacity as there was no fear of change. America was a new place, a new place that welcome change. If Gen Y (and any brave Gen X) wants to be known as the next wave of leaders that will move our country forward and to continue to make a difference/impact in this world, looking back, what will it take?
I have often wanted to go back in time and chat with some of the leaders that stand out to me in and fast-forward our conversation to the 21st Century and speak about their take on leadership some 200 years later. Would they say we were still a country that embrace change, or valued complacency? Would they call our leaders courageous or cowards in leading change? I wonder what they would say with the country going through a Great Depression and Great Recession – “guys after two tries, you might get it right on a third”? Here are a few key leaders that stand out in my mind and a quick summary of what I believe they would say is a primary leadership trait for success:
- George Washington – renown character and commitment
- Benjamin Franklin – embrace change and focus on goals beyond self
- Thomas Jefferson – non authoritative but knew how to get the job done
- Abraham Lincoln – trust among the people in leadership and conflict
- Samuel Adams – (more than just beer) charisma, respect, and provoked people to positive action
For Gen X & Y, I believe these outstanding individuals would tell us all (both male and female) we must not give up and be afraid to make change where change should happen, continue to be a person of trustworthiness, respect, and honor. Let’s take some reflective time to find new courage, a course that has never been traveled, and the tenacity to take the lead! What words of wisdom do you think they would say to you?