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Individual Leadership Creates a new Nation

The history of the United States of America is built on the legacy of many leaders but none more important than the 56 men who signed their lives and their fortunes away when they affixed their names to the Declaration of Independence. The final sentence of which reads: “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our Sacred Honor.”

In our modern literature and business press we tout leadership as a critical component of success. We quote statistics such as the 2014 survey of 2532 CEO’s that found that 2506 (99.9%) of them considered having effective Leadership at all levels their biggest problem and 38% of them considered the current state of affairs as Urgent! In today’s world of constant change the need for leadership is not relegated to a few people at the top of the organization. Leadership is required at all levels of the organization where service delivery meets service consumer.

We may not think of the Continental Congress that met in Philadelphia in 1776 as a team or even a group with a common perspective and goal. But that is exactly what they were. Here were men from thirteen widely dispersed colonies with a variety of backgrounds that came together to accomplish a goal. Leadership in its simplest form is defined as “the application of social influence on a group or individual to accomplish a goal”. Social influence and reason were the only weapons used to create the Declaration of Independence and the only tools used to convince the signers to commit their common fortunes and lives to each other.

Of the 56 signers of the Declaration none were hanged for treason but many suffered from British imprisonment; lost their homes or family members or suffered great financial loss. Several had the distinction of playing major roles in the adoption of the Declaration. Thomas Jefferson is rightly credited with drafting the language that makes up most of the Declaration. His focus on the granting and preservation of Liberty are the foundation of our Constitution today. One delegate served in obscurity until called upon to use his leadership and dedication to break the tie in his own delegation and insure the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.

Caesar Rodney was a wealthy landowner from Delaware. He was a tireless servant of the people having held positions of Sheriff; Justice of the Peace; Register of Deeds and was one of three delegates chosen to represent Delaware at the Continental Congress. He was a good choice indeed. His two colleagues were bitter enemies and took opposite sides in the debate to declare independence. As the vote neared for Independence it became clear that Delaware was needed to have the requisite super majority (nine states) declare independence. Rodney was at home when word came that he was needed. He rode through the night in a terrible storm to cover the 80 miles to Philadelphia. Upon his arrival he cast the vote to break the tie in his delegation and secure the votes for Independence. Personal leadership and faithfulness saved the day.

The sheer audacity of these leaders to challenge and defy the most powerful nation and largest army on earth is almost beyond comprehension. Their dedication to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness is the bedrock that we have built our nation upon.

Each of the other 55 delegates has their own story to tell. Some went on to have National stature (John Adams and Thomas Jefferson); some remained active in state politics and became Governors and Senators; while others returned to their homes to fight with distinction in the coming Revolution. However, if these men from the lowliest farmer to future presidents had not exercised their individual leadership we would not be here today.

What is the lesson to be learned? Simply put, Leadership is required at every level of an organization in order to grow and prosper. You can’t wait until you have the position to acquire leadership skills and you can’t wait to build leadership skills in those around you. At ActionPoint Partners we believe “Leadership is not about the results you achieve but rather it is about the leaders you develop and the results they achieve.”

Leadership requires the steady acquisition of skills and insights that build a leadership approach for each individual. That means focus on: Knowing yourself (Self Awareness); Building Trusting Relationships (Honesty); Building Teams (Shared Responsibility); Being Agile (Focused Fast and Flexible) and Achieving Results (Accountability).

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