Today we celebrate Washington’s Birthday, also commonly known as Presidents Day. What a great day to recognize our first president, George Washington, and, while we are at it, recognize all those Chief Executives who came after him. While we may not always agree with some of their politics, they have often inspired and motivated us with their powerful words.
Here are a few great quotes from past presidents upon which to reflect.
George Washington: “A slender acquaintance with the world must convince every man that actions, not words, are the true criterion of the attachment of friends.”
Here Washington is speaking about integrity, knowing yourself and what you stand for, and then making decisions, presenting yourself, and acting upon those beliefs. Integrity is perhaps best demonstrated when the leader has become the message, and is not simply the messenger — meaning they truly “walk the walk.”
Abraham Lincoln: “Good things may come to those who wait, but only those things left behind by those who hustle.”
Great leaders know that progress cannot continue until decisions are made. They get clear on their decision making criteria, consciously walk through their decision making process, and know how to balance the need for more information with the opportunity that could be lost by delaying the decision.
Harry Truman… “The buck stops here.”
A lesson in responsibility: Leaders take responsibility for their own actions, and hold themselves accountable. They aren’t about finger-pointing, and they are clear about their role in every decision and issue. They “own” their part.
Ronald Reagan: “Trust but verify.”
A lesson in accountability: Accountability is not “looking over someone’s shoulder” because you don’t trust them. In ensuring that all’s been done according to plan, you can move forward to what’s next. If there’s trust, it means there’s no reason you can’t hold someone accountable, nor should they mind. They actually will view it as someone looking to support them in making sure they have followed through
with plan and purpose.
And remember, you don’t have to be a President to be a leader. A leader is the individual in an interaction who knowingly or unknowingly creates the greater influence on the other person. It’s not about whether you are a leader, it is about how well you lead! What kind of leader do you want to be?
Happy President’s Day!