“Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though you may have a few failures, than to be with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat. Life is totally boring with no challenges to overcome.”
Leadership Topics: Family, Courage, Leaders are Created, Values, Commitments, Action, Future, Learner, Team, Adversaries.
One of greatest Leaders in American history. The book Theodore Roosevelt on Leadership condenses his Leadership Lessons, so they can be transferred seamlessly into the 21st century. TR’s timeless example can be put to work in startups, small business, the not-for-profit sector, etc. The 10 Leadership Lessons that follow are a sampler from Roosevelt’s project of self-creation & service to his country.
Top 10 Teddy Roosevelt Leadership Lessons
1st Family. Teddy was a dedicated family man. This was a remarkable situation, for a public figure holding this great responsibility to be an attentive father & devoted husband. He and his children loved there “play time”.
“There are many kinds of success worth having. It is exceedingly interesting and attractive to be a successful business man, or significant manager, or a successful professional – military or civilian. But for tireless interest & enjoyment, a household of children (if things go reasonably well), certainly makes all other forms of success & achievement lose their importance by comparison”.
2nd Courage is the Foundational Virtue. TR overcame an extreme Asthma & Digestive problems that left him physically weak. He vowed to over-come this and wanted his example to inspire others. His father built him a Workout room in their home. He went out West to live the life a Cowboy to toughen up.
“There were all kinds of things of which I was afraid at first, ranging from grizzly bears to “mean” horses & gun fighters; but by acting as if I was not afraid, I gradually ceased to be afraid”.
3rd Leaders are Created, Not Born. TR’s life & work is an enduring answer to this eternal question. TR Roosevelt believed that leadership is an on-going project of self-creation. He offered his life as a example for anyone who would seek to create themselves into an effective leader.
“If I have anything at all resembling genius, it is in the gift for leadership. To tell the truth, I like to believe that, by what I have accomplished without great gifts, I may be a source of encouragement to other Americans.
4th Live your Values. TR was authentic in the every sense. He was the creator of his own character by his determination. He strove to live his strict Values, for to better serve a nation that could advance by the same values.
“Most of all, I believe whatever value my service to my country (from a Rough Rider, to Governor to President), may be, comes even more from what I am as a man, than from what I may do – although I am very proud of my accomplishments”.
5th Keep Commitments. Today, commitments are not kept – if they become inconvenient or undesirable. This has always been a weakness of politicians. “Promise, but not deliver”. TR was notable in striving to meet his commitments. In his reasoning, holding to his word was vital to earning & maintaining the trust of those he served:
“It is a peculiar gratification for me, to have owed my election to “the common people” – who work on the farm, in shops, or on railroads, or who owned little stores – which they managed themselves. I would literally, not figuratively, rather cut off my right hand than forfeit by any improper act of mine, the trust & respect of these people. I shall endeavor not to merit their disapproval by any act inconsistent with the confidence they have in me”.
6th Action, none-stop Action. Teddy had a consistent bias for action. He believed in the initiative. He was never comfortable or effective on defense – responding to a situation created by others. Whether it was the construction of the Panama Canal, Trust-busting $B J.P. Morgan, or any number of other memorable challenges, TR took the risks of action, over the greater (if sometimes less evident) risks of inaction or delay.
“Whatever I think is right for me to do, I do. I do the things that I believe ought to be done. And when I make up my mind to do a thing, I act. No hesitation !!!
7th Create the Future, make your own History. TR was one of the most outstanding Presidents (that’s why he’s on Mt Rushmore) As a life-long practicing politician, he was also an accomplished historian. He would frequently turn to historical role-models as guidance when dealing with contemporary problems.
“There is nothing lower than to sneer at and belittle the great men, their great deeds & great thoughts of the past—unless it is to magnify them and ascribe unbelievable & impossible virtues to that period”.
8th Leaders are Learners. From his youth, TR was a voracious reader: “Reading is a addiction with me.” TR’s curiosity, his ceaseless learning, never abated. Books, classrooms, formal education (he graduated from Harvard), these were far from the only venues for learning. But some peoples learning only produced many of those he called the “educated in-effectives.” LoL TR’s combining of ideas & putting them into action, was central to his project of self-creation as a leader.
“As soon as any man has ceased to learn, his usefulness as a Leader is at an end. When he himself can’t learn, he has reached the stage where he can’t inspire others”.
9th Put your Team ahead of Yourself. One of Roosevelt’s formative real-time leadership experiences was leading his Regiment in the Spanish-American War. TR led from the front. He placed himself into undeniable danger, remaining on horseback while facing a rain of bullets. He placed those he was serving before himself. As a result, most of the Rough Riders remained committed to him for the remainder of their lives.
“No man has a right to ask or accept any service, unless under changed conditions he would feel that he could keep his entire self-respect while rendering it”.
10th Maintain an Open Channel with Adversaries. Many people think in all-or-nothing terms: either you’re for me, or you’re against me. That can be appropriate in some circumstances, but, at least as often, it’s not. TR’s focus on getting results, meeting his goals, made him “flexible” on ways to get there. As governor of New York, he met regularly with his frequent adversary and uneasy ally, the “Easy Boss”. This prompted some criticism from critics who feared that such meetings would necessarily compromise him or his positions on vital matters. TR nonetheless maintained regular meetings and communications with Easy Boss and other trouble-some people.
“If my virtue ever becomes so frail that it will not stand meeting men of whom I thoroughly disapprove (but who are active in official life and whom I must encounter), why I shall go out of politics and become an hermit. Whether I see these men or do not see them, if I do for them anything improper, then I am legitimately subject to criticism. On the other hand only a fool will criticize me because I see them.
Comments: Do you know of anything you could add as Teddy’s Leadership Principles?
from Serve to Lead.org October 23, 2017
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