Saturday, July 10, 2010

Not Merely Admired

"He was a man that could talk to you," a farmer remembered. "He had sense enough to talk to a man who didn't have any education, and he had sense enough to talk to the best educated man in the world; and he was easy to talk to. He could talk about anything." Roosevelt also listened. The stories of low farm prices, failed banks, and rurarl poverty stayed with him into the White House.
To be a great president, said FDR, required "the quality of soul which makes a man loved by little children, by dumb animals, that quality of soul which makes him a strong help to those in sorrow or trouble, that quality which makes him not merely admired but loved by all the people - the quality of sympathetic understanding of the human heart, of real interest in one's fellow man."
Jean Edward Smith, FDR, (New York: Random House, 2007), 218, 222.
It is easy to be completely enamored by the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt. He certainly made mistakes during his tenure, but he had the unique ability to be truly loved by people. He knew how to have a conversation with people. He knew how to listen to people. He knew what mattered to people. It was his ability to connect with regular people and have them actually fully believed he cared about them as an individual that stuck out. He understood people & chose to care for them. People were not mere statistics. He was admired for his leadership but loved for his care & connection.

The single greatest quality missing from today's leadership is that: care & concern for one's fellow man. All around me I see quality leadership that can lead in tough times, make difficult decisions, and forecast incredible vision. But lost amongst all of it - is a genuine concern for people. Leaders don't listen any more. Leaders can't "talk about anything" any more. Leaders simply don't care any more. Leadership has become about building power, establishing networks with influential people, and being stoic in the midst of crisis. And yet in all the good we get from that, we miss out as people on being cared for. On being loved. On being listened to. We desperately crave a leader who will lead but also love. If it is enough to simply be admired - a leader has already fallen woefully short of what they could & should be.

The "quality of soul" as FDR put it makes a person not only a good president or leader; but a genuine person worthy of admiration and love. That is what I desire to be.


Danielle said...

You two have a lot in common when it comes to leading through caring for your people! I really admire that in you. Now just take on his optimism ;-) Love you!