Washington and Lincoln offer better lessons on leadership

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To the Editor,
I am a longtime subscriber and read with interest your June issue article on “The Leader as Learner.”  Academics from the various Virginia universities can opine as they will.  Leadership is not and never has been about the most current trend in guiding people.  It is about men and women who can hire the best people, sublimate their egos and do what is best for their customers, company and his/her employees.  It is a simple formula, regardless of whether the milieu is business, the military or politics. 

I work for a lower middle-market, private-equity firm that invests in companies with sales usually between $15 million and $50 million.  A good CEO makes or breaks companies of this size.  The common trait among the successful ones is a personality characterized by confidence without a preening ego and a clear strategy with tactical execution flexibility.

If you want to learn about leadership, don’t read the most recent book from the business consultant du jour.  Read a biography of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln or Winston Churchill.  These leaders led nations and saved countries, much more challenging than exceeding annual business budgets.

Thomas M. Neale
Managing partner, Patriot Capital

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