April 13, 2010 at 6:54 pm #97551
Tom Fox – The Federal CoachParticipant
Some of history’s more influential figures have been able to have a profound impact through their ability to lead.
What figure – historical and/or current – do you feel best embodies leadership? What is it about them as a leader that resonates with you?
My favorite present-day leader is General Eric Shinseki, currently serving as Secretary of Veterans Affairs. He is focused on people and principled in his decision-making. He is also incredibly humble.
Historically, my favorite leader is General George Marshall. He is a rare leader who could lead a battle and lead reconstruction; the Marshall Plan has been one of the most ambitious and most successful initiatives in our nation’s history.
Who is your favorite leader?
April 13, 2010 at 6:58 pm #97577
I always like people that seem real smart, calm, and analytical.
Three of my favorites –
-Former DHS Michael Chertoff
April 13, 2010 at 7:18 pm #97575
Great question, Tom! I’ve always admired FDR for guiding us through some of our nation’s most difficult years…despite his own tremendous challenges. Unbelievable. Perhaps it’s that personal test in the crucible of crisis that makes an individual more prepared to move others forward toward a common vision. Or maybe it just makes someone particularly fearless once they’ve faced down death and disability as more formidable opponents. Whatever it is, I think most leaders are made, not born, because of these unique life experiences.
April 13, 2010 at 7:26 pm #97573
The late Senator Bill Roth from Delaware was a workhorse not a showhorse. Few people remember him today but his legislative legacy includes:
1. The original IRA
2. The Senate side of the Kemp/Roth tax reform of 1981
3. The Government Performance and Results Act
4. Major IRS reform in the 90s, and
5. The Roth IRA
Each of these efforts brought major polciy improvements to government and any single one would have been a career capping accomplishment for most legislators. For Senator Roth, they were the natural biproduct of simply doing his job.
April 13, 2010 at 11:53 pm #97571
I agree that leaders who are calm and in control are those I most respect. I also think we miss out on learning from our history as that subject seems to be less important in teaching our present generation. It was a pleasure for me to read about and learn from some of the greats in our past such as Daniel Webster and Henry Clay. The lessons from that era are ones we need to inject into our process today where debate does not degrade into who can shout their message the loudest and with the most negativity. Another important leader I respect from our time is John Warner who looked at the issues from how they served the people and not necessarily a cause.
April 14, 2010 at 12:22 pm #97569
Old School leaders:
– George “Fightin” Washington
– “Awesome” Lincoln
– “Trusty” Truman
– Colin “POW-Taker” Powell
– DoD Secretary Gates
April 14, 2010 at 12:47 pm #97567
April 14, 2010 at 3:16 pm #97565
I think that looking at a leader takes time especially when you are examining a president. For instance we have no idea what Obama’s current policies will do in the long run so therefore we can necessarily judge them finitely as good or bad.
I know judging things years or even decades later gives us an unfair advantage, hindsight being 20/20 but ultimately what makes decisions either good or bad is how they pan out in the long run.
With that being said I always answered this question, at least on a President level, with Lincoln. Unlike some other leaders who had greatness thrust upon them Lincoln knew exactly what he was walking into the moment he was elected and handled it pretty well. Also if any of you out there are into a good history read take a look at “Team of Rivals”. The book shows how Lincoln viewed and welcomed different opinions in order to make informed decisions.
As for people right now, I’ll tell you in ten years… not fair but I’m an ends person and not too concerned with the means (as long as it’s not outlandish).
April 15, 2010 at 1:01 am #97563
1.) John Fitzgerald Kennedy (JFK)… the best leaders can reevaluate situations when they make mistakes (they use situational leadership)… JFK knew that he made mistake with the Bay of Pigs Invasion, but recovered mightily with his handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis It’s a shame that his life was so short.
2.) William Jefferson Clinton – On on board with Govloop’s characteristics here… WJC was smart, relatlively calm (when he was going harrassed by the 24/7 cable news cycle), and incredibliy analytical… he was (and still is) a true policy wonk and could debate ANYONE and WIN EVERY TIME.
3.) I’m also on board with Sterling’s selections of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Harry Truman…. and as a former State Department employee, I have immense respect for Colin Powell and Richard Armitage.
4.) Obama has changed the world image of American forever.
April 15, 2010 at 3:00 pm #97561
I also wanted to give a shout out to Bono, the lead singer of U2. I always enjoyed him as an artist, but what tipped me over to seeing him as an important global leader was his remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast where he made an appeal for the ONE Campaign and caring about the plight of people with fewer resources around the world. I got involved immediately after hearing his “sermon.” True leaders inspire. We use “rockstar” on GovLoop a lot to describe great civil servants…but he definitely embodies that term for me as a vocal, valuable advocate for our world’s most impoverished people, using popularity as leverage for leading.
April 15, 2010 at 6:35 pm #97559
What is all this fondness for “calmness!?” A “Pax” on Calmness!
One of my favorite movies is Serenity… not because it’s “calm,” but because it speaks to the outcome of a beneficent totalitarian government called The Alliance, that used the planet Miranda as a testing ground for the chemical agent G-23 Paxilon Hydrochlorate, or simply “Pax” (Latin for “peace”). It was added to the planet’s air processors in order to calm the population and weed out aggression. The agent worked, but too well: 99.9% of the population became so lethargic that they stopped working, talking, and eventually eating and moving. They simply lay down and succumbed to death. The remaining “tenth of a percent” (i.e. 0.1%) of the planet’s 30 million people had the opposite reaction to the Pax, becoming mindlessly violent and extremely aggressive.
Show me a government that is trying to “calm” the population and I’ll show you a woman who suggested the best method for doing so was to give her people “cake!”
Back to the original question… Teddy Roosevelt of course! “Walk softly but carry a big stick!”
April 16, 2010 at 6:14 pm #97557
Philip L. HoffmanParticipant
Well John, there’s calmness, and then there’s anarchy – and we seem to be swinging to the latter these days of Tea Parties and such. granted, much of the population is still calm, too clam for my blood, but I am not sure we’ve gotten to eating cake just yet. Eavesdropping on cake, yes, but eating, no. *wink*
April 19, 2010 at 3:26 pm #97555
William H. Devereaux, IIIParticipant
“Above all, we must realize that no arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. It is a weapon our adversaries in today’s world do not have. ”
“Democracy is worth dying for, because it’s the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man. ”
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same. ” – Ronald Reagan
At the end of his two terms in office, Ronald Reagan viewed with satisfaction the achievements of his innovative program known as the Reagan Revolution, which aimed to reinvigorate the American people and reduce their reliance upon Government. He felt he had fulfilled his campaign pledge of 1980 to restore “the great, confident roar of American progress and growth and optimism.”
April 20, 2010 at 3:34 pm #97553
Tom Fox – The Federal CoachParticipant
Thanks for the response Andrew!
You raise a solid point about how great leaders leverage their strengths to lead people. In Bono’s case he uses his immense popularity around the world to mobilize support for a cause. Some leaders use their oratory skills, while others use work-ethic and devotion to a cause to galvanize followers.
I think it is also important to note that no leader can achieve great change alone – they must not only be in tune with their strengths, but be in tune with the strengths of those they lead and how best to maximize those strengths toward a cause.
Thanks again for such great insights!
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