Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Inspirational Leaders

As the final question of the leadership panel, Tom Brokaw asked each person to name a leader that inspires them. Then before letting them answer, he took Abraham Lincoln off the table. Apparently Lincoln is the response in almost every discussion of great leaders. (As someone who picked Lincoln as my favorite president in 2nd grade, he certainly would have been my choice!) The panelist answers were as follows:

David Kennedy: Franklin Roosevelt. No one else could have brought an isolationist country into WWII, and then persisted through the dark times to end the war.

Kavita Ramdas: A woman, (I didn’t catch the name) who while in an Afghani refugee camp, decided to start a school. She did this at great personal risk, but managed to not only teach her children, and her friends children. She wound teaching the children of the head of the camp. And then she expanded the teaching to the women in the camp as well. She won’t be known to the world, but she is a personal hero for Ms Ramdas.

Xavier Becerra: Eleanor Roosevelt. While the country owes gratitude to Franklin Roosevelt for particpation in WWII, the people owe an even greater debt to Eleanor Roosevelt. She was not only a supportive first lady (under trying times!) but she drove her own agenda, and was instrumental in social programs throughout the country.

John Hennessey: George Washington. He accepted command of the army, even though he knew he’d have to build it practically from scratch. He then won the Revolutionay War through brilliant tactics. Then, after 8 years as president, he had the humility to realize that it was time for him to retire from the public spotlight so that the democracy he had helped from could continue to grow.

Anthony Kennedy: George Washington. We wouldn’t have had a constituion if Washington hadn’t been at the congress. Through his leadership he was able to keep the respresntatives together – no one would leave as long as Washington was going to stay.

Carly Fiorina: Unknown women everywhere. The women who are living in poverty, disease, war, and still provide for their families. They raise their children and do their best to make the world a better place for them.

Jeff Raikes: Lou Pinella. He had a great mentoring discussion with Lou a few years ago, and Lou told him his 5 rules for success. 1. Get along with the players. 2. Know how to keep the players at their peak performance. 3. Game strategy. Know it, use it. 4. Everyone needs PR (you may not believe what the reporters say about you, but if it’s said enough, the players and the public will). 5. Get along with the front office.

Tom Brokaw: Martin Luther King. The nation owes a great debt to King as a leader who did what he knew was right, at great personal cost, to bring the forward the cause of civil rights.

My take: I tend to look not only for an inspirational leader, but also one who was first to try something. My choice (assuming Lincoln is ineligible) would be Frances Willard. Like Susan B Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton she was a leader in the women’s suffrage movement. In addition, she led the creation of the WCTU – not just to argue for Temperance, but to raise women to a level of equality with men. In her words, she worked for "a world republic of women without distinction of race or color; with no sectarianism in religion and no sex in citizenship. Whatever touches humanity touches us." She was the first woman to be recognized with a statue in the US Capitol, and set the standard by which all further women leaders should be measured.

What about you? Who do you think of as an inspiring leader? Why?

[Img source: jimbowen0306]

1 comment:

We're having a Baby said...

I'd have to say Albert Reynolds - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Reynolds. He was the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of Ireland in the mid 90s, and did a lot of the ground work in setting up the peace process, by secretly meeting with leaders of both sides in the conflict.