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James Madison’s Leadership Qualities Research Paper

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Updated: Dec 9th, 2019

James Madison is an excellent choice for this study because he is one of the founding fathers of the United States of America. Madison’s biography can provide a wealth of information about leadership because he is not only one of the founding fathers, he is also considered as the father of the US constitution.

If that is not enough, another major accomplishment of James Madison is the presidency of the United States. It is an amazing achievement because in more than 200 years of American history, there were only a few people that were voted into the White House.

It was through exemplary leadership traits that enabled Madison to rise from mediocrity to become one of the most important leaders in US history. For the purpose of this study, the life story of James Madison will be used to develop a leadership framework for leadership training.

Leadership Qualities

James Madison was only 5-foot-4 inches (Connelly 12). He was described as pale and at the same time handicapped by a weak and reedy voice (Connelly 12). On March 4, 1809 he gave his inaugural speech as the fourth president of the United States and a historian made the comment that he was “extremely pale and trembled when he speak” (Mattern 70).

It is important to point out his weakness because the current generation is obsessed with physical appearance. It was a challenge for Madison to succeed especially when compared to political leaders that were known as great orators. However, his weakness can be used to prove that it was through his leadership ability that enabled him to overcome the odds.

His apparent weakness and his less than ideal physical attributes make him an ideal candidate when it comes to the discussion about leadership. The rationale for this decision is based on the need to prove that leadership is not about charisma or the physical characteristics that enable a person to impose his will upon others.

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.

The starting point towards greatness begins with doing ordinary things in the most extraordinary manner. In the case of James Madison, industriousness was a trademark seen early in his life, especially when it comes to his studies (Rutland 15). He understood the value of hard work.

Although his family was part of the landed gentry in Virginia, the young James Madison knew that it is only through perseverance that a person can become a respected member of the community and contributor to society.

Another important leadership trait was humility, based on his desire to learn from others. There are those who call this trait as a teachable spirit, an attitude towards learning. This attribute was made evident when Madison became an apprentice to Thomas Jefferson (Roberts 17).

The former president Jefferson served as a mentor to his secretary of state James Madison (Rutland 169). Thomas Jefferson was a two-term president and during those years that he was in the White House, Madison was is student.

A humble and teachable spirit is important because a leader is a follower first. A leader cannot lead people if he does not understand the attitude of a good follower. It is only through humble submission as evidenced by the willingness to listen to the admonition and suggestions of a superior that the qualities of a good leader can be established in the person’s heart and mind.

There are many who avoided this process and that is the primary reason why many have positions in government and business but are ineffective when it comes to leading people.

James Madison was not only a good follower he also understood the value of teamwork. Without a doubt Madison was an intellectually gifted man and for his brilliance he was credited as the Father of the Constitution. His major contributions to the creation of the said document entitled him to this distinction.

But Madison knew very well that without the contribution of other people he could not achieve what he had accomplished. Thus, he was quoted to have said, “This was not, like the fabled Goddess of Wisdom, the offspring of a single brain. It ought to be regarded as the work of many heads and many hands” (Kaminski 7). He knew the value of collaboration.

Another important leadership quality evident in his life was his ability to use words to greater effect. He speaks in such a manner that he wins the approval of his colleagues (Ketcham 112). A good leader must know how to speak not only with authority but with persuasion.

A leader may have the authority to force a follower to accomplish a particular task but this is not the most effective way to deal with problems and to accomplish goals. It is through persuasion that a leader can hope to accomplish objectives that require collective effort. He also speaks with fairness (Ketcham 112). It is an attribute that enabled him to garner the support of other people.

It must be pointed out that another enviable leadership quality that Madison possessed was his 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.

As a testament to his capability in making wise decisions, Madison was regarded as a man of sound judgment (Ketcham 112). It is through sound judgment that a leader can develop the correct decision-making protocol and provide solution to a particular problem.

Another leadership attribute exemplified in the life of Madison was his belief in the power of preparation (Connelly 14). Preparation is the key to success in most endeavors. It is foolish to deal with a difficult issue without the necessary preparations made beforehand. The diminutive size and sometimes weak voice of Madison was compensated with his ability to harness the power of preparation.

Another significant leadership quality of Madison was his skills in organization (Connelly 14). This leadership trait was in full display in the aftermath of the war. In the American Revolution it was easy to understand why Madison was preoccupied with war.

The requirements of the battlefield forced him to think only of strategies and logistics. But after the conflict with Imperial forces of the British Crown, Madison turned his focus on the structure of government, finance, and foreign relations (Ketcham 112). It requires a great sense of organization to see how different departments must work together as one.

Biographers of Madison also asserted that “His object was not to win a particular battle or defeat a specific enemy but to champion liberty and justice whenever endangered” (Kaminski 7). It demonstrated his aversion towards conflict.

Historians also highlighted another enviable trait and that is the commitment to avoid disagreements. In his long and illustrious career as a politician and statesman, Madison knew that there are times when he needed to confront a person and to sharply disagree with others.

However, Madison was wise enough to understand that it is better to resolve conflict rather than to expend a great deal of time and effort to win an argument.

Madison said that “Fortunately, such disagreements may be mitigated by applying a proper method. If you see one side of a house, you can form but a partial and imperfect idea of the house, whereas if you attentively visit it on every side and examine every chamber, your idea is adequate and complete” (Vile, Pederson & Williams 7).

He was also known to pursue diplomatic solutions (Broadwater 36).A great leader knows how to resolve conflict.

Another important trait was Madison’s ability to consider the impact of a particular action on all the stakeholders. The proof for this assertion was the event in 1789 when Madison “proposed the bill of rights as a weapon to be used by federal courts to defend liberty and justice” (Kaminski 9). A good leader is mindful of the effect of his decisions on his staff, the organization, and the community.

There are other less known characteristics that may seem inconsequential but in a greater scheme of things these are important. According to one historian Madison endorsed frugality in government (Broadwater 35). It is the sign of maturity that a person knows how to conserve resources. A person who is not a good steward must not be chosen to lead.

Overview of the Hospitality Industry

The hospitality industry requires leadership in two major areas. First of all, it requires leadership in the construction and maintenance of facilities. Secondly, it requires leadership in terms of human resources. It must be made clear that leadership is needed before the construction of the appropriate facilities.

Without a clear directive from a leader a hotel cannot be built. The participation of a leader makes possible the availability of funds as well as its proper use towards the construction of a hotel, motel, and other facilities related to the hospitality industry.

The hospitality industry requires facilities. However, without human resources the hotels, motels, bars and restaurants are useless structures. It can be argued that people are the heart and soul of the hospitality industry because it sells a particular service.

In the context of leadership there are two key components when it comes to human resources and these are training and motivation.

Leadership Qualities in the Hospitality Industry

It was made clear that James Madison is an excellent example of an effective leader. His leadership qualities were discussed in detail. These leadership traits must be used to help develop a framework for teaching aspiring leaders how to train and motivate their subordinates.

James Madison was able to exemplify these leadership traits when he succeeded as one of the founding fathers of the United States and when he became the fourth president of America.

As mentioned earlier an admirable leadership attribute of Madison is industriousness. It must be the first requirement for leadership because a lazy leader will not be able to accomplish anything of significance. The hospitality industry can be characterized as a labor-intensive industry.

Thus, the leader must set the pace and must lead by example. The leader must not be late in meetings and must always demonstrate that he is ready to tackle the issues of the day.

Madison exemplified a humble and teachable spirit. A good leader must know how to learn from the experience of others. A good leader understands that he or she need not start from scratch.

A good leader seeks the advice of those who have more experience. A good leader is teachable so that there is the capacity to absorb information and insights that can help improve the business operation.

James Madison understands the power of teamwork. He demonstrated that is only through collaboration that the leader can effectively deal with a complex problem. A leader who does not rely on teamwork will soon experience burnout.

More importantly the absence of teamwork prevents the leader to have a clear overview of the whole operation. At the same time the lack of teamwork can lead to overlapping responsibilities and misuse of human resources.

Madison knew how to use the power of verbal communication. There are many leaders who are not mindful of the impact of their speech.

A leader may have the authority within a particular organization and this may give him a false sense of power so that he may tend to force people to do something rather than to persuade them to accomplish a particular task. It is better to persuade than to coerce.

A coercive action can only be effective in the short-term. The moment that the leader turns his back, the employee automatically reverts to the old practice.

Madison demonstrated his problem solving skills. Leaders in the hospitality industry must not only be adept at following the instructions incorporated in the training manual. They must also possess the ability to read the situation and formulate the appropriate solution to deal with the issue.

There are so many unpredictable things that can occur in a single day and each instance cannot be anticipated by the company manual.

Madison demonstrated that he believes in the importance of preparation. Take for instance the requirements of a five star restaurant. The ingredients must be fresh. The food that will be served must be hot and tasty. All these things require preparation starting from suppliers to the coordinated efforts of the workers.

A good leader prepares the ingredients, equipment, wine, and other things needed for the daily business operation of the restaurant. It will be a disaster if the cooking equipment does not work in the middle of a busy day. The reputation of the restaurant will be severely affected if there are not enough waiters to serve the patrons. Preparation is a major ingredient to success.

Madison possesses organizational skills. This capability is exemplified through an understanding of how different components of an enterprise can be made to work together as one unit.

The application of this skill will enable the leader to subdivide the workload and yet at the end of the day the team realizes how the contribution of all the workers resulted in a resounding success. Without organization skills a leader will not be able to properly utilize all the available resources of a particular business organization.

Madison abhorred conflict and disagreements. He treasured his ability to provide a diplomatic solution to a tenuous problem. The resolution of conflict within the organization does not only result in a positive work environment but it also fosters teamwork. Conflicts and disagreements are inevitable in the hospitality industry but a good leader will not allow the problem to fester.

Madison considered the impact of his actions in the lives of all stakeholders. This trait is an important requirement especially for leaders who are also owners of the establishment.

Sensitivity to the impact of a particular executive decision can mitigate conflicts with influential members of the community. It will also help determine the prudent course of action in order to avoid costly legal entanglements.

Madison believes in the important of frugality. It may not seem an important leadership trait but in view of the recent global financial crisis and the rising cost of doing business, it is imperative that leaders know how to teach their subordinates about the importance of resource management.

The leader must lead by example in this issue. The money saved from a conscientious use of resources can lead to increase revenue for the business organization.

If one will combine the leadership traits exemplified by Madison, then, the result can be utilized to develop leadership skills. A leader can use this framework to train and motivate his or her subordinates. The employees and staff of a hotel, motel, bar and restaurant requires extensive and continuous training.

Thus an effective leader must know how to communicate and persuade the workers to adhere to a particular standard. A leader who does not know how to communicate will not be able to transform an inexperience worker into someone that is effective and efficient in his job.

The second most important job of a leader in the hospitality industry is the ability to motivate workers. As mentioned earlier the hospitality industry can be characterized as a labor-intensive industry and therefore it is easy for workers to feel tired from doing the same thing over and over again. It is through motivation that a leader can inspire workers to sustain a certain level of quality in their work.

In order to understand the importance of motivation, consider the following statement, “people are motivated to perform an action that directly results in satisfying their personal needs (Tucker, McCarthy, & Benton, 15). It is therefore important to have a leader that knows how to interact with workers in order to understand the problems that they face within their respective work environment.

However, workers will only confide with their leader if they know that he or she can be trusted. This is why it is also imperative to demonstrate fairness in dealing with workers.

According to a commentary made on motivated workers, employees will work hard and will not ask for too much in return with only one condition: “…the elimination of a small but disproportionately powerful amount of office inanity” (Kreitner & Kinicki, 25).

There are certain issues that annoy employees and it is the responsibility of the leader to know these things. In the case of hotel maids it is possible that there are certain things that prevent them from performing a good job. These issues must be dealt with. But these things can only be achieved if a leader understands teamwork and possess the requisite organizational skills.


James Madison is an example of an effective leader. He possessed the necessary skills that catapulted him to success. The leaders in the hospitality industry can learn much from him.

A careful analysis of his life story will reveal that certain leadership traits related to communication, organization, problem solving, and conflict resolution can be adapted for the training and motivation of workers. Workers in the hospitality require continuous training and motivation in order to sustain a high quality of service.

Works Cited

Broadwater, Jeff. James Madison: A Son of Virginia and a Founder of the Nation. NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2012. Print.

Connelly, William. James Madison. MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2010. Print.

Kaminski, John. James Madison: Champion of Liberty and Justice. WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 2006. Print.

Ketcham, Ralph. James Madison: A Biography. VA: The University Press of Virginia, 1990. Print.

Kreitner, Robert and Angelo Kinicki. Organizational Behavior. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2009. Print.

Mattern, David. James Madison: Patriot, Politician, and President. New York: Rosen Publishing, 2005. Print.

Roberts, Jeremy. James Madison. MN: Lerner Publishing, 2004. Print.

Rutland, Robert. James Madison: Founding Father. MO: University of Missouri Press, 1997. Print.

Vile, John, William Pederson and Frank Williams. James Madison: Philosopher, Founder and Statesman. OH: Ohio University Press, 2008. Print.

Tucker, Mary, Anne McCarthy and Douglas Benton. The Human Challenge. NJ: Prentice Hall, 2003. Print.

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