Monday, March 1, 2010


I was a leader in the 1970's. Often I was the only woman attorney in the courtroom then, and because of it, people just kept asking me to head organizations. I wound up being the first woman Chair of my local Economic Development Commission, drafting legislation,heading women's groups,helping the first women run for office, creating the first YMCA Latch Key Daycare, lobbying, speaking at colleges, and establishing a number of non-profit groups, among other things.

My family had not been leaders; they were more of the self-effacing, quiet types, and it was hard to figure just how to be. I am not sure I have totally figured things out; as the times change, so do the types of leaders that make it to the top. The people determine leaders, just as leaders influence the people.

But being a Christian, there was one thing I believed...never to ask someone to do something, I myself was not willing to do. I also believed in working side by side as a team...and having integrity.

My favorite leaders have been without a doubt ..Winston Churchill, to whom the whole world is indebted to for preserving democracy ( and who was also a wonderful self-taught artist), and my role model from way back...Abraham Lincoln...whose birthday I share.

A Great Book

I was lucky enough, a couple of months ago, to win a copy of a great book. I had taken a number of workshops on web 2.0 skills, and at a sort of giant workshop featuring the practical applications of wikis, blogs and other web 2.0 applications, there wound up being a kind of Jeopardy contest to see who had learned the most. I was one of the lucky people who walked off with a prize.

Lincoln on Leadership: Executive Strategies for Tough Times by Donald T. Phillips
was the prize. It most clearly sums up what I believe are the essentials of good leaders. It is a book lauded by Governor of New York Mario M. Cuomo, John Sculley, CEO of Apple Compuers, and Stephen R. Covey, author of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

To summarize, the author believes that Lincoln was a man who knew how to influence people, who had tremendous courage, who knew how to be decisive, and who mastered the art of communication.

1. Regarding people skills:
  • Lincoln knew enough to get out of his office and meet with the men who were doing the work for him
  • He build good networks and alliances
  • He was not a bully, but knew how to persuade others.
2. Regarding character:

  • He never acted in a revengeful way
  • He was an honest person and one of integrity
  • He listened to his critics
  • He dared to change his mind
3. Regarding his ability to lead:
  • He had a clear vision
  • He listened to others
  • He mentored those he delegated work to, gave them a chance to succeed, but wasn't afraid to change those he delegated work to if they didn't produce results. General Grant's appointment was an example of this.
  • He was a person who dared to think new things; he was the only President who ever obtained a patent for an invention. He was very interested in protecting men by looking into new weapons of defense, and invented one himself.
4. Concerning communication:
  • He was an excellent public speaker
  • Like Christ, he used storytelling to convey picture words to his audience
  • He didn't try to talk above people to impress them, but at the most basic level everyone could understand with homespun stories- in his case, that the union must remain undivided.
All of this sounds easy to do, but of course it is not. In these troubled time, it is wonderful to have such a clear example of what leadership is supposed to be. People don't change; neither does human nature. What worked in the toughest times of the American experience,when family members were pitted against family members, could also work now.

Everyone should read this book; I could not possible convey how good it is, and nowhere else have I seen a more wonderful rendering of "Honest Abe". This book deserves to be bedside reading and enjoyed.

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