by Gino Blefari
My travels this week took me to Washington, D.C. to help honor Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices’ top brokerages and hear impressive speakers gathered to provide brokers with new perspectives on real estate, politics, media, business practices and more. These speakers are leaders in their own right, including cyber security expert Joel Brenner, ABC News pollster Gary Langer, CNN senior political analyst Gloria Borger, and N.A.R. representatives Lawrence Yun, Bill Gilmartin and Joe Ventrone. I was also honored to meet Real Living At Home leaders Jason Sherman, Justin Levitch and their terrific agents at their Washington, D.C. office.
Part of my visit to the nation’s capital included a moonlight tour of monuments in the National Mall. Each monument is stunning, yet my favorite is the Lincoln Memorial at the western end of the Mall.
As you ascend the steps of the Lincoln Memorial its majesty and size become instantly apparent. The massive, marble statue of A
braham Lincoln faces east, with the seated President maintaining a watching eye over the National Mall’s Reflecting Pool, Washington Monument and, beyond, the Capitol Building. The view from inside the monument is equally inspiring. Its north wall displays an inscription of Lincoln’s second inaugural speech, while the south is inscribed with the complete Gettysburg Address. History and greatness surround.
This inscription, located behind the statue, aptly describes the experience …
“IN THIS TEMPLE
AS IN THE HEARTS OF THE PEOPLE
FOR WHOM HE SAVED THE UNION
THE MEMORY OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN
IS ENSHRINED FOREVER.”
Without President Lincoln our great country likely would be much different today. Lincoln artfully managed a fractured political landscape, adversaries, skeptics and members of his own cabinet and military to guide the country through perhaps its darkest times on record. His leadership abilities –wonderfully memorialized in Donald T. Phillips book Lincoln on Leadership: Executive Strategies for Tough Times – remain a blueprint for effective leadership today.
Lincoln understood that sound leadership is often achieved through subtle influence and face-to-face communication. He preferred to leave the “ivory tower” and interact directly with people. This practice, named MBWA (Managing by Wandering Around) more than a century later by management gurus Tom Peters and Robert Waterman, is a staple component of modern leadership thinking.
Of course, Lincoln treated people with courtesy and respect, and through encouragement and suggestion moved them to higher achievement and greater understanding. He was honest, fair, civil and tolerant. Lincoln was also firm, composed, decisive and a master public speaker, and used these qualities to establish purpose in and win the hearts and minds of his constituents.
So what’s the message? That’s an easy one! The foundation for sound leadership must always account for the human condition and include essential tenets of respect, empowerment, trust and purpose. One needn’t necessarily look to the latest management book, seminar or conference for fresh leadership concepts. Abraham Lincoln displayed many of them more than a century ago and, in doing so, forged the model for decent, effective and timeless human interaction.