Servant Leaders — What We Can Learn from Washington & Lincoln

Michael Veltri Servant Leader

We honor two specific servant leaders on Presidents’ Day — Washington and Lincoln. General Washington was the first US president, having served heroically during the Revolutionary War. Lincoln was the 16th president and gallantly lead the US during the Civil War.

What comes to mind when you think of these two servant leader? For me, its honesty — brutal, right-between-the-eyes honesty. Washington is quoted as saying, “I cannot tell a lie….” when questioned as a six year old boy by his father. Abraham Lincoln was nicknamed “Honest Abe” because he always told the truth.

Both presidents, though not perfect by any means, were always honest with themselves, first and foremost. That is, they knew their limitations, weaknesses, and shortcomings. They were very self-aware. And it is this self-awareness that allowed them to thrive as servant leaders — especially during such tumultuous times as right after the Revolutionary War and during the Civil War.

How honest are you with your limitations, weaknesses, and shortcomings? Do you practice self-awareness to make the best decisions possible and improve as a servant leader at work and home? If so, you can create stunning results that leap your career, company, and community forward at an exponential rate.

So before your long Presidents’ Day weekend ends, spend 30-seconds doing this simple exercise to grow as an honest servant leader:

30-Seconds of Honest Action

Step 1. Take 10-seconds to write down 10 of your strengths. Don’t think about it — just “data dump” and write as fast fast you can.

Step 2. Take another 10-seconds to write down 10 of your weaknesses. Again, “data dump” and write whatever comes to mind.

Step 3. Take the last 10-seconds and pick one (any will do) strength and one weakness from each list — circle or highlight or underline it. Commit to spending the next week focusing on developing the chosen strength and LEARNING MORE ABOUT your chosen weakness. Don’t try to “fix” your weakness by eliminating it or doing the opposite, etc. Discover why that weakness is there. What makes it tick? Why did it even become a weakness?

Try these three steps to grow and develop as an honest servant leader. Develop a healthy curiosity about your strengths and weaknesses. And watch your self-awareness grow as you continue to make better decisions that positively impact your career, company, and community!

If you have questions, comments, or other innovative ways to grow as an honest servant leader, leave a comment below or hit me up on Twitter @mpveltri. I’d love to hear from you.

From life or death decisions on the battlefield to the boardroom, Michael Veltri draws on his background as a battle-hardened business executive, decorated U.S. Marine veteran, and 10-year resident of Japan to teach CEOs and senior executives better decision-making skills that deliver stunning results. His inspiring leadership keynote speeches and breakout sessions deliver practical tools that can be used immediately to increase productivity and deliver bottom-line results while creating a culture of servant leadership at every level. Learn more at: