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TheStreet Open House

Best Business Lessons From George Washington

"I need to feel what it is like, what they're experiencing and I need to work on it because I'm the brains behind it," she says. "If I can't offer them ideas to make them more effective then I'm not leading by example."

2. Be consistent with your message internally and externally.
Washington was "first and foremost, trustworthy and charismatic, and people looked up to him because he stood firm on his beliefs," says Steven Raz, co-founder of Cornerstone Search Group, an executive search firm that concentrates on the pharmaceutical and life sciences industries.

"One has to be fair and be consistent. That doesn't mean everybody is going to agree, but they're going to respect you . It's when people are not consistent or they give preferential treatment or don't hold by their moral fabric that people lose faith in their leaders," Raz adds.

Part of that consistency is being able to delegate tasks so business owners and managers can free up time to see the big picture. Washington recognized this, which allowed him to be more innovative in molding our young country.

"Sometimes you're not the best person to do that job," Russo says. Leaders need to know "when are you more useful in another place in another role. What Washington was good at was knowing the people he had around him were people he could trust and they were strong thinkers and complemented the skills that he didn't have. The same applies in business."

3. Listen more, talk less.
There are some CEOs, business owners and managers who get so caught up in their own importance that they forget whom they're speaking with -- often, it's employees. These are the people doing the everyday jobs to make your business successful. So it's important to take the time to talk with your employees regularly, ask how they're doing, address any challenges they encounter and be open to suggestions from them on how to improve business functions.

Craig Libis, CEO of Executive Recruiting Consultants says managers can learn from Washington in that he was a "silent leader."

"I think it was John Adams who said Washington possessed the gift of silence. He spoke very seldom. He just bought that quiet presence that everyone looked up to, but he was extremely persistent, and I think we can all take something away from that," Libis says. "We can learn so much from listening versus speaking and talking, which a lot of us like to do. Listen twice as much as you talk and ask a lot of questions."

Of course, maybe the most important lesson we can learn from President Washington is not to chop down any cherry trees.

-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

To contact Laurie Kulikowski, send an email to: Laurie.Kulikowski@thestreet.com.

To follow Laurie Kulikowski on Twitter, go to: http://twitter.com/#!/LKulikowski

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Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.
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