Patrick Neiswender (Writing Buddy- Scott McGraw)
Leadership, War & Hollywood
Leader. Natural or Taught?
What makes a leader? Ask one-hundred random people and you may get one-hundred different answers. If you ask me, I do not know if I necessarily have a set answer except for the fact that I believe every person alive is a leader and a follower. I do however believe that leadership is a skill which can be taught and developed over time. Franklin D. Roosevelt started his career as a unappreciated kid from Groton School, who was able to develop leadership skills through becoming a senator then ultimately the President to bring the United States of America out of the Great Depression.
One of the most underrated leadership quality that Roosevelt was able to develop was his interaction with the media. In today’s society media is seen as an antagonist to individuals who hold position of influence, where the media’s purpose is only to break stories to paint these influential individuals in a negative manner. However, Roosevelt was able to work with the media to exude confidence and hope to the American citizens. Roosevelt is known for his New Deal and bringing the United States of America out of the Great Depression, however he is also known for having the disease polio. While never gaining full feeling in his legs, Roosevelt, with help from the media, was able to seemingly “walk” to the podiums and be shown standing while giving speeches. He worked with the media because image is important. Roosevelt wanted to make sure that the citizens of America and the rest of the world saw their leader exuding power and not someone with a crippling disease. Although classified as a disability, Roosevelt along with all great leaders are able to learn and overcome obstacles to transcend their leadership to the next level. Through help with the media Roosevelt remained influential through providing this image of strength and hope to the people of America and to the rest of the world.
Having leadership be a skill, all leaders have their own unique way of leading. We as citizens and students can try and name certain overarching aspects of leadership, but every leader is original and can never be truly emulated. An approach that I feel describes Roosevelt’s leadership style especially during the Great Depression, is the coaching approach. The coaching approach is a blend of both high-directive and high-supportive, meaning that Roosevelt will be very goal oriented, while maintaining a level of support for his followers needs. Being both highly directive and highly supportive is what made Roosevelt perfect to bring the United States out of the Great Depression. One of Roosevelt’s highly directive acts is known as the Bank Holiday, where he temporarily shut down all the banks to make sure that banks still had capital, while proposing the Emergency Banking act to make banks a more secure place to hold Americans money. Although maybe not initially seen as very directive, he suspended the operation of banks so Americans were not able to remove their money, which would have crippled all and the economy even more than they already were. Most notably the New Deal is the perfect blend of being both very directive and supportive. By enacting all different types of work programs, Roosevelt is directly influencing marketplace interactions which speeds up the economy, while supporting Americans through giving them opportunities to have jobs. Another supportive act that Roosevelt preformed while in office were his Fireside chats. Roosevelt wanted a direct line of contact between him and the citizens of America. Roosevelt wanted to make sure that they knew that he cared about them, and that they were going to get out of the Great Depression together. And the ability to give little speeches over the radio that reached directly to American homes allows him to show his support towards the average American citizen.
From being a homeschooled, isolated child to going on to fly under the radar in high school to finally being able to unite a nation to bring them out of one of the largest economic crashes in history, Franklin D. Roosevelt was never a born leader but rather he was able to work and build on a few critical skills, such as overcoming a crippling disease to keep the image of power needed as a leader, as well as being a blend of goal oriented and supportive that turned him into one of the most powerful leaders in American history.