Elena Garcia is the senior director, human resources, for APCO’s North America region. I asked her to recap a recent event APCO hosted to benefit 826DC.
Walter Isaacson, author of the best-selling Steve Jobs and Benjamin Franklin biographies, the other night said at a book forum sponsored by APCO: You don’t have to be the smartest person in the room to get something done; you just have to be the person who knows how to get things done.
He learned that lesson in researching Franklin, who was the guy in the room who got a country done a couple of centuries ago. Isaacson said today’s politicians could learn a lesson from that, bringing the Franklin teaching to a lesson for today’s leadership.
His message was reinforced at the event by fellow author Sally Bedell Smith, who penned the popular biography of Queen Elizabeth. The two authors taught me and the other members of their audience a good lesson.
“The virtue of duty has been lost,” said Isaacson, commenting on the current political climate. Smith pointed out that Queen Elizabeth’s sense of duty was imposed upon her at the age of 10, when she was told that she would one day rule England. Probably made the future queen grow up quickly.
We can argue whether leaders are born with or handed leadership roles, but clearly it is creativity and curiosity that fuels the genius of the best leaders.
APCO co-sponsored the event with 826DC, a non-profit that teaches similar lessons to inner-city students.
I didn’t expect that the lessons learned from the authors’ research would be such a poignant message for today’s leaders. As a head of HR, it was a lesson I will carry to my daily responsibilities of the characteristics we look for in employees – are you the person in the room who can get things done?