Archives For Thomas Jefferson on Leadership

Being the focal point of the action at center stage should not always be the goal of leaders. Sometimes they can effectively influence the action onstage through their work as a “director” behind the scenes.

~ Coy Barefoot, Thomas Jefferson on Leadership

When faced with discontent, leaders are often well advised to view the situation in a positive light, as an indication that those involved care deeply about the issues at hand. Conflict can be a sign of vigor and a stimulus to growth. Remain composed, and assess the benefits that can come from dissent.

~ Coy Barefoot, Thomas Jefferson on Leadership

Like Jefferson, any leader is willing to face new challenges, recognizing in them the possibilities to renew purpose, reawaken strength, and achieve greater goals. To do this a leader must not be afraid to leave his or her comfort zone and travel to unfamiliar territory. Take advantage of the change of scenery, the new circumstances, and the fresh faces.

Accept the call to adventure, and see in the journey an opening to grow as a person and to reinvent or redefine your leadership.

~ Coy Barefoot, Thomas Jefferson on Leadership

Jefferson: Some Final Thoughts.

Like any leader, Jefferson had to pick his battles. As a young man he boldly chose to join the political assault on slavery. He assumed leadership and was the very person who might have had the convictions and political skills to wage a formidable attack on slavery in America. But he was compromised by his own prejudices and fears. He abdicated that leadership and retreated.

Many of his contemporaries and numerous Americans since have condemned Jefferson for that move. Many others have concluded that he did all he could do given the times in which he lived. But despite the debate over his legacy, there will always be much to learn from Thomas Jefferson—whether he is impressing us with his brilliance or disappointing us with his failures.

  • Be willing to sacrifice. Leadership doesn’t come freely or easily.
  • Assuming a leadership role means that you will be judged; you will be tested. Your courage will be measured. Meet that challenge.
  • Refuse to abdicate your leadership.
  • Leaders are often required to stand on their principles—so protect them. Do not compromise your integrity for ease or comfort.
  • What criteria do you use to pick your battles as a leader? Do you pick the fights you think you can win or the ones that should be fought regardless of the chances of victory?
  • Walk the walk—it’s that simple. You weaken your position as a leader when your actions don’t match your words.
  • Be wary of rationalizations that mask the abuse of power. They can discredit your leadership and damage your legacy.

~ Coy Barefoot, Thomas Jefferson on Leadership

Jefferson the Warrior: Some Final Thoughts.

We have seen him (Thomas Jefferson) endure humiliating public defeat, failure, and intense personal sorrow. We have watched him tumble into the pit of despair and bitterness. But as Jefferson’s life would show, defeat is never an end for great leaders but merely the prologue to an as yet unwritten chapter of victory.

  • People need to be reminded that they are important and that their contributions really do matter. It’s the duty of a leader to make sure their actions are appreciated and their sacrifices make sense.
  • When the going gets tough and you don’t seem to be getting anywhere, ask yourself, What do I do best? What are my talents? Am I putting them to work to win this victory? Figure out how your talents can contribute to realizing the goals of your team, and put that plan into action without delay.
  • Information is the greatest resource. Good leaders make every effort to ensure that they have access to the most timely and reliable information possible.
  • Even in times of profound struggle leaders do not forget the big picture. No matter how many battles have been lost, the war can still be won.
  • Leadership can be terribly lonely and intensely frustrating. You may get criticism for failing when you were expecting praise for trying.
  • Responsibility is not always convenient, nor is it easy. At times, being a leader will demand everything you’ve got, and then some. It will push you physically and emotionally, and force you to discover a fortitude you may not have known you possessed.
  • Just because you have enjoyed past successes does not mean you are invincible. Unforeseen circumstances can appear to overwhelm you with incredible odds. How you respond at these times will determine what kind of a leader you really are. Adversity is the ultimate test of real leadership.
  • Where is your Monticello? All leaders need a safe haven to which they can go to nourish their spirits and rest.
  • In the face of defeat, throw yourself into work that you are good at and truly enjoy. This will renew your confidence and strength.

~ Coy Barefoot, Thomas Jefferson on Leadership

 

A leader relies on the regular flow of intelligence. It’s an absolute must. Without up-to-date information from reliable sources, leaders are stripped of their abilities to make quality decisions. They are relegated to guesswork and playing catch-up—a game that cannot be won.

~ Coy Barefoot, Thomas Jefferson on Leadership

People need to be reminded that they are important and that their contributions really do matter. They also need to be reminded on a regular basis what they’re fighting for—especially when times are hard. And every effort that they make, no matter how small, needs to be met with grateful appreciation. It’s the duty of a leader to make sure all these things are done.

~ Coy Barefoot, Thomas Jefferson on Leadership

Jeffersonian leadership stands for merit over privilege, free thought against dogma, virtue over greed, and progressive change against convention. Tolerance for the views of others, support for educational opportunities and social mobility, and a determined resolve to cultivate new leadership are also central themes.

  • Are you where you need to be to “be of more use”? Are your skills and talents being put to best use? Is it paying off for you and your family?
  • Leaders don’t wait for others to make their vision a reality. They lead by example, not afraid to do the work and get the ball rolling.
  • Stay focused on the results of your efforts. Don’t be content with rhetoric. A leader is ever hungry for results—getting them, keeping them, and building on them.
  • Your life is made up of a multitude of unique moments offering incredible opportunities. Seize them when the moment is right.
  • Stand your ground in support on the “true principles” in which you believe. As Thomas Jefferson said, “Do not be frightened into their surrender by the alarms of the timid.”
  • Effective leaders seek to influence the actions of others, not dominate them. Infuse the debate and help to craft an agenda that reflects the vision behind your plan.
  • Train your energies and efforts on accomplishing short-term goals that each contribute to a long-term reward.
  • Stay committed to finding the “natural aristocracy”—the best and the brightest—in any organization or team. Call them forward to join you in accepting the mantle of leadership. Refuse to coddle an “artificial aristocracy” that no longer deserves the privileges it enjoys.
  • In whatever venue you find yourself, lead a crusade against ignorance. Improve the opportunities all members of your team have to educate themselves and sharpen their skills.
  • Leadership means being aware that others have personal faiths and beliefs that you may not share and being sensitive to it. That should not prevent people from working together as a team and focusing on worthwhile goals.
  • The nest leaders are those who inspire others with the courage, motivation, and freedom, not to follow, but to become leaders themselves.

~ Coy Barefoot, Thomas Jefferson on Leadership

Manageable, short-term goals focus our attention and efforts. Leaders appreciate and make clear the link between these goals and the long-term rewards that will results.

~ Coy Barefoot, Thomas Jefferson on Leadership (2002)

The leader of any group must always be the one most focused on results—on getting them, keeping them, and building on them.

~ Coy Barefoot, Thomas Jefferson on Leadership (2002)