Byron's Babbles

Do you have style?

Posted in Educational Leadership, Global Leadership, James Madison, Leadership, Leadership Development, Style by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on January 16, 2021

“Madison’s style was not to have one” (Ellis, 2002). I’m reading Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation by Joseph L. Ellis and this was a statement by the author about our fourth President, James Madison. From Ellis’ book and now digging a little deeper about Madison I find that Madison showed a blend of abilities in all he did. All of this got me thinking, however, is it possible to not have a style. I actually do a teacher leadership session on developing and embracing your own style. So, my initial thought here is that to not have a specific style, might just be a style. Hopefully you’re catching what I’m pitching.

Some have called James Madison a philosopher statesman. After all, he was one of the principal architects of the constitutional and political institutions that continue to shape our nation’s life today. Madison could take ideas and put them into action – a hallmark of American citizenship. Leadership is the ability to persuade others to follow a certain path. Leadership as a concept was demonstrated in the life of James Madison through intellect, fairness, hard work, and pursuit of excellence in everything that he did. Therefore, we could list all the leadership traits that Madison had, and there were many, but that still doesn’t answer the question of style?

To answer this question I had to uncover what is even meant by personal style. After reading quite a bit about style, I concluded it is how a person influences their everyday life, how they look, behave and present themselves to the world. True style is a very personal thing. Style is a personal consideration. Nor does style belong to the crowd or to the norm. Style is a natural expression of the self.

Madison possessed the ability to come up with a solution to a complex problem. His leadership skill in this department was tested during the American Revolution and the time when the United States government was still in its infancy. For all of his leadership acumen, however, Madison lacked many of physical and oration attributes we are obsessed with today. He was only 5’4” tall, pale, and was said to have trembled when he delivered his first inauguration speech. Madison’s long list of exemplary leadership traits, understanding that leaders are followers first, and his desire to be a lifelong learning enabled him to develop out of mediocrity to be considered a Founding Father.

So, is it possible to not have a style? I don’t think so. Here’s how I see it: Who we are includes our style. Our style reflects the coherence between all levels of the self – what we desire, what our habits are, our thinking, our intentions, what we say and what we do, as well as how we reflect. Glad I had this chance to reflect. Do you have any thoughts on this?