Blog posts may be reprinted without permission,
provided a link to www.JeffersonLeadership.com is included.

Category Archives: Leadership styles

The types of leadership displayed by different individuals

This is what I think. Now, you make the decision.

… I submit all this to your discretion …
To Henry Dearborn, February 9, 1804

… will you be so good as to consider this, and to do finally what you think best?
To Henry Dearborn, February 9, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders let trusted subordinates make the decisions.
These excerpts are Jefferson’s concluding thoughts to his War Secretary on two entirely unrelated matters. One dealt with a family’s petition for the early release of a soldier. The other pertained to opening negotiations with the Creek Indians for a road to New Orleans through their lands in Georgia and Alabama. In each case, the President expressed an opinion and the reasons for it.Then he left the decision in the hands of his lieutenant.

Jefferson feared most of all the consolidation of all powers into the hands of a very few in the federal government, far removed from the lives of those affected by their decisions. Thus, he was a devoted delegator of decision making. He had no qualms about making the call when he had to, but if a matter could be resolved by someone under his authority, he eagerly left the matter in their hands.

In his retirement, Jefferson wrote to Destutt de Tracy in 1811,“… I have never been so well pleased as when I could shift power from my own, on the shoulders of others …”

“I would like to express my thanks to you for your outstanding presentation …
Your opening keynote presentation … had the audience spellbound …”

Program Co-Chair, MO Organization for Clinical Laboratory Science, St. Louis Chapter
Invite Thomas Jefferson to speak to your conference.
Call 573-657-2739
Leave a comment Posted in Leadership styles, Uncategorized Tagged , , , , , , |

This is what I think. Now, you make the decision.

… I submit all this to your discretion …
To Henry Dearborn, February 9, 1804

… will you be so good as to consider this, and to do finally what you think best?
To Henry Dearborn, February 9, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders let trusted subordinates make the decisions.
These excerpts are Jefferson’s concluding thoughts to his War Secretary on two entirely unrelated matters. One dealt with a family’s petition for the early release of a soldier. The other pertained to opening negotiations with the Creek Indians for a road to New Orleans through their lands in Georgia and Alabama. In each case, the President expressed an opinion and the reasons for it. Then he left the decision in the hands of his lieutenant.

Jefferson feared most of all the consolidation of all powers into the hands of a very few in the federal government, far removed from the lives of those affected by their decisions. Thus, he was a devoted delegator of decision making. He had no qualms about making the call when he had to, but if a matter could be resolved by someone under his authority, he eagerly left the matter in their hands.

In his retirement, Jefferson wrote to Destutt de Tracy in 1811, “… I have never been so well pleased as when I could shift power from my own, on the shoulders of others …”

“I would like to express my thanks to you for your outstanding presentation …
Your opening keynote presentation … had the audience spellbound …”
Program Co-Chair, MO Organization for Clinical Laboratory Science, St. Louis Chapter
Invite Thomas Jefferson to speak to your conference.
Call 573-657-2739
Leave a comment Posted in Leadership styles, Military / Militia Tagged , , , , , , , |

For those less fortunate than myself …

I pray you to recieve & apply the within sum of one hundred dollars to the use of those among you afflicted with the present sickness, who may be in need of it. I further request that no acknolegement may be made of it in the public papers, nor otherwise in any manner. I offer my best wishes for the reestablishment of the health of Alexandria, & to yourself my respectful salutations.
To Samuel Snowden, September 29, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Thoughtful leaders CAN keep their thoughtful acts private.
Jefferson always fled the coast, the area he called the tidewater, for Monticello in August and September to escape the deadly yellow fever. Its cause was unknown but was believed to result from bad air that circulated in low-lying areas that time of year. In 1793, a yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia killed 5,000, more than 10% of the city’s population. It would be almost a century later, in 1900, before doctors determined that mosquitoes spread the deadly disease.

The President knew that not everyone could escape the tidewater and yellow fever. Thus, he made a $100 contribution to a newspaper publisher in tidewater-surrounded Alexandria, VA, for the relief of those ravaged by the disease, requesting his donation be kept anonymous.

“Patrick Lee was our first guest speaker and he set the bar very high
with his remarkable portrayal of Thomas Jefferson.”
Board of Directors, Sedalia Heritage Foundation
Mr. Jefferson will set the bar equally high at your conference.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
Leave a comment Posted in Health, Leadership styles, Miscellaneous Tagged , , , , , , , , |

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!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
Leave a comment Posted in Leadership styles, Politics Tagged , , , , , , |

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.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
1 Comment Posted in Constitutional issues, Leadership styles Tagged , , , , , , , , |

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.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
Leave a comment Posted in Leadership styles Tagged , , , , , , , |

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.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-273
Leave a comment Posted in Leadership styles, Politics Tagged , , , , , , |

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.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
Leave a comment Posted in Leadership styles Tagged |

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.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
Leave a comment Posted in Human nature, Intellectual pursuits, Leadership styles Tagged , , , , , , |

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.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
1 Comment Posted in Leadership styles Tagged , , , , , , |