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Category Archives: Leadership styles

The types of leadership displayed by different individuals

Why piss people off when it can be avoided?

on seeing an account of Gibaut’s death in the Salem paper I immediately ordered a commission for Kittridge. I gave notice of it to Crownenshield by the same post. I am glad it was done. for after a good candidate is known, delay only gives time to intrigue, to interest a greater number of persons & consequently to make more malcontents by disappointment.
To Albert Gallatin, August 30, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Decisive leaders nip potential problems in the bud.
Without going into detail about the individuals or position, death created a vacancy in a federally appointed office. As soon as the President learned of it in the newspaper, he immediately appointed another and made a public announcement. Why act so quickly?
1. He had a qualified candidate, so there was no need to wait.
2. Delay created space for political intrigue to develop.
3. Delay gave time for other candidates to express interest.
4. The result would create “malcontents” among those not chosen.

“We appreciated your willingness to take questions from the audience,
handling all questions with thoughtfulness and agility.”
Western Coal Transportation Association, Denver, CO
Thomas Jefferson delights to answer questions from his audience, no holds barred!
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You are barking up the wrong tree.

Th: Jefferson … acknoleges … [your letters] proposing that persons should be employed by the general government to explore mines of metal & coal, to assay ores … designate canals, roads &c but observes to him that these objects not being among the powers transferred by the States to the General government, nor among the purposes for which the latter is authorized to levy money on the people, the State governments alone are competent to the pursuits proposed.
To Benjamin Henfrey, January 5, 1802

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Constitutional leaders understand the limits of their authority.
The British scientist and businessman had written Jefferson at length recommending the hiring of a geologist/engineer to study mineral ores and design roads and canals in the various states. He also introduced a teaser, volunteering the demonstrate for the President a process of his own, capturing gas vapor from coal and using it to provide lamp lighting.

Henfrey then offered his own services for hire, to do what he proposed.

Jefferson the scientist would have loved the new information Henfrey’s proposal might provide. No doubt he was intrigued by gas lighting. Still, he shut Henfrey down cold. Why?
1. Such exploration was not a power given by the states to the national government.
2. Nor was it one of the purposes for which the government could tax its citizens.
The Constitution clearly left that authority and expense to the individual states.

“It was impressive to notice the entire banquet hall silent with everyone,
including the hotel banquet staff, paying rapt attention to your portrayal.”
Forestry Conservation Communications Association
Mr. Jefferson will hold your audience in rapt attention, too.
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How should the President invite you to dinner?

Th: Jefferson requests the favor of Dr. Thornton, Mrs. Thornton and Mrs. Bridau’s company to dinner tomorrow at three oclock.
To William Thornton and others, May 12, 1801

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Self-secure leaders don’t have to rely on titles.
Invitations to dine with the President were pre-printed, with blanks for the recipient’s name and date to be filled in. Following are the invitations used by the first two Presidents:
“The President of the United States and Mrs. Washington request the pleasure of …”
“The President of the United States [Adams] requests the pleasure of …”

Note the difference between these and Jefferson’s?

His begin with his name only, not his title or office. He might have called that republican (small r) simplicity, a deliberate move away from the formality and emphasis on status that characterized the previous two administrations.

William Thornton (1759-1828) was a physician, scientist, inventor and architect. He submitted the winning design for the new capitol building on the Potomac and was one of three men who laid out the federal city-to-be and supervised the construction of federal buildings. Mrs. Bridau was Mrs. Thornton’s mother and formerly taught a school for girls, which Jefferson’s younger daughter Maria had attended.

Jefferson ate two meals a day, breakfast around 9 or 9:30 and dinner at 3:00, plus a light snack in the evening.

“This letter is to commend a both talented and fascinating performer …”
Missouri Department of Conservation
Mr. Jefferson will fascinate your audience, too.
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I respect you even though you disrespected me.

Th: Jefferson presents his respects to mr Adams and incloses him a letter which came to his hands last night; on reading what is written within the cover, he concluded it to be a private letter, and without opening a single paper within it he folded it up & now has the honor to inclose it to mr Adams, with the homage of his high consideration & respect.
To John Adams, March 8, 1801

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Generosity of spirit is a hallmark of a good leader.
In the four days since becoming President, Jefferson had learned of the many Federalists appointed to government positions and courts by John Adams just days before he left office. It was a deliberate and mean-spirited attempt by Adams to pack Jefferson’s administration with hostile employees. Those positions should have been Jefferson’s to fill.

Yet, three days after inauguration, a letter meant for Adams was delivered to the new President. We do not know its contents. Jefferson didn’t take the opportunity for a little payback. He simply forwarded the letter unopened, with this respectful note, curiously written in the 3rd person.

Mr. Jefferson promises the same generosity of spirit to your audience.
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They look good, but are they of good character?

Two persons of the name of Millar have offered themselves to me as overseers at farms which I have in Bedford … they say they are from the neighborhood of Fauquier C. H. [Court House] & have been brought up there. but they are provided with no recommendations. their appearance bespeaks labor and industry, and their conversation intelligence. I have agreed with them … [except] … if on enquiry I find their characters amiss. they tell me they are known to you; and this makes me take the liberty of this letter to request of you such information about them as you possess yourself or can get … the inconvenience of employing men whose characters may be bad … will I hope apologise for the trouble I propose to you, with an assurance of my great esteem and respect.
To Thaddeus Norris, September 17, 1815

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Careful leaders hire help carefully.
The 72-year-old retired former President needed overseers for his Poplar Forest plantations, 70 miles west of Monticello. He visited there just several times a year. That land produced his only cash crops, wheat and tobacco, and he was seriously in need of cash. He wanted managers who could work and produce without close supervision.

Two men applied. Both seemed qualified in the way they looked and spoke, but offered no references, only where they’d grown up. He agreed to hire them, provided his own investigation verified good character.

He then wrote to an acquaintance in Fauquier, asking what he knew or could find out about the men. He apologized for the effort he asked, but said the consequence of not asking could be worse.

The men must have checked out. A footnote in the source for this letter, accessible through the link above, reported Jefferson hired one of the men for two years, the other for five.

 Mr. Jefferson invites you to check out his references
before he addresses your audience.
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Who exactly is in charge here? Part 10 (OR Is life only a calculated balancing act?)

[This is the “Head” portion only of the 10th and final interchange in Jefferson’s internal dialog between his head and his heart, anguishing over Maria Cosway’s departure.]

Head … Everything in this world is a matter of calculation … Put into one scale the pleasures which any object may offer; but put fairly into the other the pains which are to follow, & see which preponderates … The art of life is the art of avoiding pain: & he is the best pilot who steers clearest of the rocks & shoals with which he is beset …

Our own share of miseries is sufficient: why enter then as volunteers into those of another? Is there so little gall poured into our cup that we must needs help to drink that of our neighbor? A friend dies or leaves us: we feel as if a limb was cut off. He is sick: we must watch over him, & participate of his pains. His fortune is shipwrecked; ours must be laid under contribution. He loses a child, a parent, or a partner: we must mourn the loss as if it were our own.
To Maria Cosway, October 12, 1786

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Beware the leader whose choices are only the paths of least resistance.
This final interchange is by far the longest of the ten, comprising nearly half of the letter. I cannot do justice to it in one post. Jefferson’s Head will get this one post, edited to about 1/4 of what he wrote. Heart’s response was more twice as long and will become the subject of multiple posts.

Head advises caution in all things, always weighing pluses and minuses, with the goal of avoiding pain. Life deals each person enough disappointment of their own. No point in looking for more or helping bear others’ grief.
In an omitted portion, Head commends intellectual pursuits, for no one can take away the pleasures gained there. Those allow one to ride above the “bustle & tumult of society,” occupied by those who are too much guided by their emotions.

The complete Thomas Jefferson, head AND heart, will inspire your audience.
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This is what I think, but let another decide.

As far as can be judged from the maps, the road from Fort Stoddert ought to bear down South Westwardly, to get into the Spanish road leading from Mobille to Baton Rouge, before it crosses Pascagoule river. then follow that road (which is nearly due West) till it crosses Pearl river. then quit it & go nearly due South to the neck … [depending upon] the person you employ, whose examination on the spot must controul our ideas where they are impracticable.
To Gideon Granger, April 24, 1806

According to Lafon’s map … of the Environs of N. Orleans, it may seem doubtful whether it is best to cross the Pearl river at the Spanish road & come down on the West side to the Rigolet at Stikinoula, or to take off from that road on the East side of the river where it is intersected by one of the Indian paths travd by Lafon, & come down to Bois-doré … but these circumstances can be estimated only by persons on the spot.
To Gideon Granger, April 25, 1806

The Jefferson Leadership Blog began February 21, 2011. This is the 500th post. 😀
Today, May 5, 2015, is the 25th Anniversary of my first presentation as Thomas Jefferson. 😯 

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Not all leadership issues are grand ones. Or necessary ones.
Granger has been Jefferson’s Postmaster General for almost five years. On several occasions, the President’s correspondence dealt quite minutely with proposed routes for postal riders. These letters are examples.

There were very few established roads. Postal riders used a combination of roads, paths, Indian trails, and rivers. Where none of those were helpful, the rider would blaze his own trail on horseback, armed with a hatchet for clearing the way.

Jefferson-the-empiricist consulted the best maps available, made his observations but didn’t make the call. Jefferson-the-delegator favored decisions made locally rather than in Washington City. He wanted someone who knew the area personally, maybe the one who would actually ride it, to choose the route.

“We especially appreciated your ability to tailor the presentation
to fit the theme of the conference …”

Caterpillar ThinkBIG Global Conference
Thomas Jefferson will speak to the specific interests of your audience.
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Who gets sacked and why?

nothing presents such difficulties of administration as offices. about appointments to them, the rule is simple enough … but removals are more difficult. no one will say that all should be removed, or that none should. yet no two scarcely draw the same line. I consider as nullities … [see below] but the freedom of opinion, & the reasonable maintenance of it, is not a crime, and ought not to occasion injury. these are as yet matters under consideration …
To Gideon Granger, March 29, 1801

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Even-handed leaders are just in evaluating the opposition.
Granger (1767-1822) was a Connecticut lawyer and writer and a strong supporter of Jefferson and the republican cause. Later in 1801, the new President would appoint him Postmaster General, an office he would hold for both of his administrations and the first of Madison’s.

Three and a half weeks into his Presidency, Jefferson was already experiencing the formidable challenge any new elected official faces, which employees to keep and which to remove. He was receiving requests for appointments in the new administration. For someone to be appointed, someone else had to be removed. Not all current employees should stay, nor should all be removed. What criteria should apply? These standards are taken from text in this letter not included above:

  1. Republicans should enjoy “the same general proportion” of offices in the government as they did in the population at large. At this point, they held none, because Federalist partisans held all.
    2. Appointments by President Adams after his defeat but before he left office were “nullities” and should be vacated.
    3. Those who ” perverted their offices to the oppression of their fellow citizens” should be removed. Examples cited:
    – “Marshalls packing juries”
    – “attorneys grinding their legal victims”
    – “intolerants removing those under them for opinion sake”
    – “substitutes for honest men removed for their republican principles”
“We heard nothing but praise from audience members.”
Policy Director, Washington State Association of Counties
Mr. Jefferson will earn the praise of your audience, too.
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I’d rather not, but if you insist …

I received a letter from the President … covering an appointment to be Secretary of State. I received it with real regret. My wish had been to return to Paris … to see the end of the Revolution … return home, to withdraw from Political life … to sink into the bosom of my family and friends, and devote myself to studies more congenial to my mind … I expressed these dispositions candidly to the President … but assured him [if] … I could be more useful in the … government, I would sacrifice my own inclinations … this I left to his decision … on the 23d. of Dec…. I received a second letter from the President, expressing his continued wish that I should take my station there, but leaving me still at liberty to continue in my former office … This silenced my reluctance, and I accepted the new appointment.
Autobiography, 1821

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Great leaders are willing to be mutually submissive.
Soon after Jefferson’s return from France, he received an offer he really didn’t want, the new President’s request that he serve as Secretary of State. He replied and “candidly” gave his reasons why he didn’t want the job. Even so, if could better serve in this new capacity, he would sacrifice his desires to the President’s. He left the choice up to Washington.

In a second letter, the President affirmed his wish but offered his ambassador the opportunity to continue in that position. He left the choice up to Jefferson.

With each man freely expressing himself and deferring to the other, Jefferson chose to make the final submission and serve his new country in a new way. Doing so positioned him on a trajectory toward the Presidency 11 years later. That might not have happened had he pursued his own wishes in late 1789.

“He did an outstanding job in his presentation.”
Executive Director, Wyoming School Boards Association
Mr. Jefferson will do an outstanding job for you!
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How to bring unity out of conflict, Pt. 3 of 3

The discussions began at the hour of four, and were continued till ten o’clock in the evening; during which time I was a silent witness to a coolness and candor of argument unusual in the conflicts of political opinion; to a logical reasoning, and chaste eloquence, disfigured by no gaudy tinsel of rhetoric or declamation, and truly worthy of being placed in parallel with the finest dialogues of antiquity … The result was an agreement …
Autobiography, 1821

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
A conducive atmosphere (and a crisis) can bring out the very best in leaders.
The previous two posts explained:
1. Setting the stage for bringing eight conflicting leaders together
2. A clear presentation of the danger ahead and the need for compromise
The final post in this series shows how the participants conducted themselves in the negotiations.

Well-fed, relaxed and lubricated with a little wine, eight squabbling French patriot leaders spent six hours face-to-face discussing their positions while Jefferson observed. He saw:
1. A calmness and straightforwardness “unusual” among political opponents
2. Clear-thinking that was modestly presented
3. None who sought to gain advantage by verbal skills

Jefferson was a great fan of “antiquity,” literature, architecture, ideas that had stood the test of centuries. He ranked this six-hour debate as equal to any of “the finest dialogues” recorded of ancient times.

“The result,” of Lafayette’s leadership, the patriots’ honest discussion, with an assist from Jefferson’s facilitation, “was an agreement.” They accomplished their purpose!

Four years later, at age 81, Jefferson wrote, “Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst and cold.” These men set aside their pride for the greater good.

Now, if it hadn’t been for a weak king and his evil, domineering queen …

“Your presentation kept everyone’s undivided attention…
amazing since it had been a long day, and I’m sure people were tired.”
Executive Vice-President, North Carolina Agribusiness Council
Thomas Jefferson will hold your audience’s undivided attention, too!
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