(A continuing series for the next several weeks)
It is true of the nation, as of the individual, that the greatest doer must also be a great dreamer.”
~ Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919)
BEFORE becoming 23rd president of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt had already made indelible marks on the political scene. Controversial, even contradictory, a “progressive Republican,” his vigor, enthusiasm and decisiveness remain inarguable among critics and proponents. “Teddy” wasn’t a soft, cuddly teddy bear. Try a grisly!
AS A YOUTHFUL state legislator, Roosevelt advocated child labor laws and safer working conditions. As police commissioner, he reformed a corrupt, ineffectual department. As civil service commissioner and New York governor, Roosevelt introduced broad political and economic reforms. The youngest U.S. president at age 42, Teddy championed anti-monopoly laws, and conservation by establishing great national parks and other preserves. His reputation as “trust buster” made him the nemesis of big business, but savior to the common laborer, while amassing unprecedented executive authority. He championed a modern U.S. Navy, asserting forceful “big stick” diplomacy, and was responsible for building the Panama Canal. In 1906 he became the first American awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for mediating of the Russo-Japanese War.
Leadership Lessons:
Energy alone does not make a leader, but is indispensable to leadership. Leaders are fixers. They cannot be comfortable when things are wrong. Morale, high energy, and optimism are contagions an effective leader is eager to spread. Strength and health are products of a “strenuous life,” and create a strong platform from which to lead others. Give those you lead a “square deal.” The most difficult thing a leader can do is persuade others to forgo immediate profit or gain for the benefit of some greater future good. Yet such acts are often required for the prosperity, even survival, of any enterprise. Finally, take joy in what you do, and as a leader, communicate that joy to others.
NOTHING OF SIGNIFICANCE is ever achieved without enthusiasm and belief (paraphrasing Emerson). It’s tough being UP all the time, yet agents, customers, others, are counting on you for direction and example. It’s all about attitude — where you’re leaning is where they will follow. Hopefully, it’s towards growth, opportunity, success. Enthusiasm is highly contagious, enduring, even if at first we must try hard to show it. Yes, even on those bad days we all have.