4 Leadership Lessons From The Founding Fathers

Now inscribed on the Library of Congress, James Madison's words are as true today as they were in 1829: “The happy Union of these States is a wonder; their Constitution a miracle; their example the hope of Liberty throughout the world.” In forging such a nation, the Founding Fathers were the most exemplary of leaders.

In celebration of our independence, let us note how their ideals hold true today. Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world, indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” She's right. Here are four leadership principles our Founders taught us.

The courage of convictions: Our founders clung to and fought for the cause of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” With years of hindsight and the benefit of our modern comforts, it is hard to comprehend their sacrifices. Leadership in a global economy requires steady conviction in the face of incredible challenges. To say that our Founding Fathers were men of conviction would be an understatement, but all great leaders are. What will be the measure of your leadership?

The sanctity of sacrifice: In the formation of our republic and in signing the Declaration of Independence, the Founders pledged to one another, “our lives, our fortunes, our sacred honor.” The leadership principle of sacrifice is not new. Our Founders understood it well. And to that end we understand that sacrificial leadership is selfless, not self-serving. The commitment made 236 years ago reminds us that no great accomplishment comes without sacrifice and that causes greater than self are  the lasting ones. Time tested through two centuries, today's best leaders understand the power of sacrifice when it comes to building a lasting business.

The fulfillment of faith: To their credit, the Founders understood and valued the practice of faith. In their wisdom the founders recognized the truth that we are all “created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights” by which we live our lives and practice our faith, whether or in a higher power or ideals greater than ourselves. Stepping back to contemplate allows us to see the world around us, and the people entrusted to our leadership, in a more meaningful way. The executive model today is not so much an “independence from” mentality as it is a “responsibility toward” philosophy. Thoughtful leaders seek to be a blessing and to serve causes greater than self; wise ones remember the source.

The power of purpose: It was through persecution, hardships, and struggles whereby the Founders rallied and mutually pledged their “reliance on the protection of Divine Providence” in declaring our independence. The innumerable lessons our Founders taught us transcend political ideology and religious creed. The rally today is for leaders with purpose, backed by the power of their convictions, faith, and sacrifice, to make a difference in the world. Just as the Founders were men of clear purpose and mission, successful management today charts a clear course with the right women and men in place with the necessary tools to achieve their goals.

Our Founders were leadership pioneers; let us honor their memory as we celebrate.

Happy Fourth of July!

© 2012 Doug Dickerson. Doug Dickerson is a nationally recognized leadership speaker and writer. He is the author of the new book Great Leaders Wanted! Visit Doug's blog or follow him @managemntmoment.

[Image: Flickr user Recuerdos de Pandora]

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2 Comments

  • Brett W. Gould

    It's not about what men think, and what quotes and thoughts we can find that support our own opinions.  It's about the only man that lived out a conviction, perfectly...that honored his father... that was birthed from the sole purpose that sacrificing his very life for us would make it possible to live for...through faith...the very one who created us at the very beginning.

    It's breaks my heart that we have turned our heads and hearts from the most amazing story of  sacrifice ever known.

    Men and women love to debate belief.  Yet...whether someone chooses to believe or not, doesn't remove the truth.  It only serves as a spotlight on the path that person chooses to take in life.

    The wide and the narrow.  Both are there.  One covered in darkness, the other light.

    May we all walk in the light.

    It came at a great cost.  A great sacrifice.  And was done for you and for me.

    Choose this day whom you will serve.  As for me and my house...we will serve the Lord.

    Happy 4th of July.

    Freedom truly is never free.  It comes at a great cost.

    Thank you to those who have served and are serving our country.  

    God Bless You.  We love you all.

  • Larry Linn

    "The question
    before the human race is, whether the God of Nature shall govern the world by
    his own laws, or whether priests and kings shall rule it by fictitious
    miracles?" -John Adams

    "In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty.
    He is always in alliance with the despot." - Thomas Jefferson

    "Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for
    every noble enterprise." - James Madison

    "All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or
    Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and
    enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit."- Thomas Paine