• 212-827-4501
March 28, 2024 Admin

8 Leadership Lessons From Former U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman

With profound sadness, we mourn the passing of Joe Lieberman, whose dedication to public service left an indelible mark. In this Forbes article, our founding partner, Michael Coffey, and others pay homage by sharing invaluable leadership lessons gleaned from the Senator’s remarkable career.

By Edward Segal, Senior Contributor, March 28, 2024

Former Democratic vice presidential nominee and U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman who died yesterday at 82, leaves behind a track record of professional conduct that can serve as a role model for business and other leaders.

Do The Right Thing

“Joe Lieberman and I didn’t always see eye-to-eye, but he had an extraordinary career in public service, including four decades spent fighting for the people of Connecticut,” former President Barack Obama said in a statement.

“He also worked hard to repeal “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” and helped us pass the Affordable Care Act. In both cases the politics were difficult, but he stuck to his principles because he knew it was the right thing to do,” Obama observed.

“At his political peak, on the threshold of the vice presidency, Mr. Lieberman— a national voice of morality [was] the first major Democrat to rebuke President Bill Clinton for his sexual relationship with the White House intern Monica Lewinsky…” the New York Times reported.

Humor And Humility

“Joe Lieberman was a great leader because he, throughout his life, was a very independent-minded person, a very compassionate person, empathetic, and he had both a sense of humility about himself and a sense of humor. Humor and humility is a good combination and kind of rare these days,” Jim Kennedy, who was the senator’s communication director for nine years, said via email.

Work Across Party Lines

“Senator Lieberman didn’t stick to talking points. He didn’t stick to partisan ideology, he worked across party lines to get things done, successfully in many ways. And that’s increasingly a rarity, and people like him are few and far between, unfortunately, but if we could get back to that kind of leadership, I think the country would be better off,” Kennedy noted.

During his final Senate speech in 2013, ‘Lieberman urged Congress to look beyond party lines and partisan rancor to break Washington gridlock,’ the Associated Press reported.

“It requires reaching across the aisle and finding partners from the opposite party,” said Lieberman. “That is what is desperately needed in Washington now,” the news outlet wrote.

Fight For What You Believe In

“In an era of political carbon copies, Joe Lieberman was a singularity. One of one,” said Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat. “He fought and won for what he believed was right and for the state he adored,” according to a reported by the Associated Press.

Have A Solid Foundation Of Principles

“One essential reason for Lieberman’s success was having a set of values and principles that differed from conventional wisdom,” Daniel Boscaljon, an executive coach, said via email.

“Whether derived from religion or other influences, having a solid foundation of principles—and a community to continue nourishing them—is crucial for leaders. Leaders whose only influence in conventional wisdom only have two choices: to conform or rebel. Having different sources of wisdom and influence empower true leaders to govern creatively, because it allows different perspectives from which to evaluate a situation,” he commented.

Be A Good Listener

“Senator Joseph Lieberman was a great listener—someone who cared about what you had to say,” Michael Coffey, an attorney and senior partner at the Coffey Modica law firm, said en an emailed message.

“With a Zen-like calmness he was not guided by fury or passion, but rather knowledge and deep understanding on how to take actions to improve people’s lives with common sense,” Coffey noted.

Express Appreciation

In 2006, Coffey was one of only four elected state officials in Connecticut to back Lieberman’s re-election campaign.

“When Senator Lieberman won, he made sure to call me the next day and personally say thank you. It shows that despite his immense power and influence in our nation’s capital, he never forgot what got him there. His intellect, humor and demeanor will be missed and his impact on our nation’s politics will not soon be forgotten,” Coffey recalled.

Build Consensus

“With his good friend, the late Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), he was able to build consensus and move the country forward without rancor, without dividing the country,” Debra Caruso Marrone, CEO of DJC Communications, said via email.

“Members of today’s Congress should emulate Senators Lieberman and McCain and bring the country together, ending the chasm that exists between the right and left,” she recommended.