4 Keys to Leadership Development and Longevity


“Successful leaders are those who are prepared to answer the door when opportunity knocks” – JSP


Leaders, who make it to the top of their fields and remain there, do so due to their relentless commitment to self-improvement, and the mental toughness to stay the course during times of difficulty.


To be that effective you must see every new responsibility as an opportunity to test your skills, acquire new ones, and perfect them. The vision of serving for the greater good, and the belief that you have what it takes to make a difference, will fuel your passion to succeed.


I believe that Franklin Delano Roosevelt was such a leader; he had a relentless drive to make a difference. He was conscientious and committed to excel and succeed in whatever capacity he served. He was also no stranger to personal challenges throughout his life.


He was born in 1882, attended Harvard University and Columbia University. Ran for office and was elected to the New York State Senate in 1910 and age 28. He was stricken with polio in 1921(twelve years before being elected President) and was confined to a wheelchair for most of his adult life.


A Tenacious Leader


Roosevelt could have easily given up public service, but he continued to serve the State of New York and was re-elected. He was appointed assistant secretary of the Navy in 1913. In the years that followed; he continued to develop his administrative and leadership skills, earning him a reputation as an effective administrator.


He was elected the 44th Governor of New York in 1928 and served until he became the 32nd president of the United States in 1933. He served as Commander and Chief until his passing in 1945. He is the only president to be elected to four consecutive terms.


Roosevelt’s commitment to preparedness and lifelong learning enabled him to be ready to answer the door when opportunity knocked:


New York State Senator (1911–1913)

Assistant Secretary of the Navy (1913–1920)

Governor of New York (1929–1932)

President of the United States (1933–1945)


I would like to note four key Leadership characteristics that Roosevelt possessed, developed and utilized throughout his life.


Key #1: Courage and Mental Toughness


Roosevelt had courage, self-discipline, and incredible mental toughness that served him well. His public career spanned some of the most turbulent years of the twentieth century and American history for that matter.


He reportedly battled typhoid fever in 1912, fought through stomach ailments in1913, appendicitis in 1915, throat infections in1916 and 1917, pneumonia and influenza in 1918, and tonsillitis followed by a tonsillectomy by 1920. He contracted polio (1921), and diagnosed with advanced arteriosclerosis by 1943, and he was still elected to a fourth term as President in 1944.


Key #2: Being a Lifelong Learner


He was gifted with a childlike inquisitive mind that kept him wanting to learn more. He possessed an amazing ability to absorb and retain much of what he studied. He was intuitive and displayed a comprehensive understanding of the issues he would have to address.


Key #3: Communication Skills


“The art of communication is the language of leadership.” - James Humes


He could not only communicate well but also could connect with his audience. He was noted for his famous “Fireside chats,” a series of radio addresses from 1933 to 1944. He utilized the radio to bring assurance to the American people during the Great Depression, as well as to explain and promote his economic policies for the nation’s recovery.


Key #4: Confidence and Competence


The leadership skills and character development formed in his early political and personal battles; enabled him to model courage and stability as he guided the nation through the Great Depression, the nation’s recovery, and preparing, responding to, and guiding the country through World War II.


“Leadership is practiced not so much in words as in attitude and in actions” - Harold S. Geneen


*** This article was authored by John Picarello, Chief Leadership Officer at Lions Pride Leadership Co.***

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