While in public office, including both his terms as Secretary of State under James Monroe and President, Adams accomplished a great deal. He was: heavily involved in the cession of Florida from Spain: wrote the Monroe Doctrine; first to bring forward federal funding for a network of road sand the creation of a national university; instrumental in setting American foreign policy for the next hundred years; and developed the concept of freedom of the seas. His strong commitment to principles rather than popularity doomed him to being a one-term president.
The Simpson Associates “Quote of the Month” (QOTM) has, for the most part, been designed to be used by leaders to inspire, coach, and positively influence their respective teams. However, for this month, the focus of the QOTM is on the leaders themselves. So many books and articles have been published on the topic of leadership that a search just on Amazon alone produces millions of entries when the words “leadership book” are put into its search engine! There is no question that defining and describing leadership, in words, is a challenge. It can certainly be depicted in so many different ways by so many different people. Yet attempting to define leadership in a way that everyone understands seems to be a rather important pursuit. To that end, I think most of us can agree that John Quincy Adams has come close inwriting down the definition of a leader. While one could certainly “split hairs,” if you can achieve the tasks listed in his quote, please feel free to call yourself a leader.
These days much is being written about the speed of change our society is going through. That said, perhaps it is worth noting that Adams’ definition of leadership likely holds as true today as it did when he was born – exactly 255 years ago this month! Perhaps the things that are not changing deserve as much attention, or more, as those that are changing.