HOT READS FOR THE PRACTITIONER
Competency: political leadership, emotional intelligence, interpersonal skills, listening skills
Who benefits: those interested in acquiring and maintaining power within an organization; those who enjoy reading good biographies
Consultant Usage: consultants at the organizational level may find this book useful
What’s it about? I am a little off the beaten path today. Today’s post has likely limited interest to most of you readers. But a few of you might find this book very thought provoking and helpful in your vertical development.
This is the second review of a biography. The first one, more than a year ago, was Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin. I gave it a very high recommendation. It was a great example of team building with a cast of characters that had no desire to work together.
This book is similar in that in addition to being an excellent biography, there are many passages on how to acquire and use power, political and otherwise. What you find in biographies of these types are real life examples of competency usage. In this case, Power (with a capital P). Below I will give some examples of how Jefferson operated. If you only have a mild interest, read these quotes and call it a day. However, if you are interested how he used these qualities with a wide variety of strong and often ego-driven famous characters you really need to read the book and study how he interacts with others.
It is a long read, but it entertains, at times fascinates, and many of the behaviors described are still much needed in modern times. Below will give you an idea of applicability and determine your interest level.
“More than any of the other early presidents — more than Washington, more than Adams — Jefferson believed in the possibilities of humanity. He dreamed big but understood that dreams become reality only when their champions are strong enough and wily enough to bend history to their purposes. Broadly put, philosophers think; politicians maneuver. Jefferson’s genius was that he was both and could do both, often simultaneously.”
“He was also a student of human nature, a keen observer of what drove other men, and he loved knowing the details of other lives.”
“The story of Jefferson’s life fascinates still in part because he found the means to endure and, in many cases, to prevail in the face of extreme partisanship, economic uncertainty, and external threat. Jefferson’s political leadership is instructive, offering us the example of a president who can operate at two levels, cultivating the hope of a brighter future while preserving the political flexibility and skill to bring the ideal as close as possible to reality.”
“Leadership, (young) Jefferson was learning, meant knowing how to distill complexity into a comprehensible message to reach the hearts as well the minds of the larger world.”
“He immersed himself in the subtle skills of engaging other, chiefly by offering people that which they value most: an attentive audience to listen to their own visions and view. Politicians often talk too much and listen too little, which can be self-defeating, for in many instances the surer route winning a friend is not to convince them that you are right but that you care what they think.”
Long biographies may not be for everyone, but they can often serve the useful function of bringing the past into the present.
Catch you later.