The Bull Moose

Col. Theodore Roosevelt, of the Rough Riders. ...

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It’s late afternoon in mid-October.  Colonel Theodore Roosevelt is on  the campaign trail.  He is seeking to re-enter the White House after choosing to leave office four years prior.  The former President arrives at the Milwaukee train station shortly after 5 p.m.  Teddy Roosevelt makes his way through the crowd that is gathering to see him.  He is able to get in an automobile and is taken to dinner.  After dinner, Col. Roosevelt is standing near his car outside the Hotel Gilpatrick waiving his hat in response to an enthusiastic crowd.  John Schrank pushes his way toward Roosevelt.  He raises a 32-caliber pistol aiming at the Colonels head.  A courageous citizen hits Schrank’s arm just as the would be assassin pulls the trigger.  

Roosevelt is shot in the chest.  Henry Cochems, Chairman of the Progressive Party speaker’s bureau, and Elbert Martin, Roosevelt’s stenographer, seized the man and held him until policemen arrive.  Roosevelt who was often known to carry a pistol even while serving as president, was unarmed.  The bullet traveled through a thick manuscript and his glasses case before embedding several inches into the Rough Rider’s chest.  He proceeds to the auditorium to deliver his speech.  The Colonel approaches the platform.  He removes the manuscript from his vest and holds it up exposing blood and the bullet hole.  Roosevelt declares,  “It takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose.”  He then delivers his 90-minute speech.

Colonel Roosevelt received the highest military award, the Medal of Honor for extraordinary bravery and valor in battle.  As President was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.  Stories like these made Teddy Roosevelt extremely popular and made him larger than life.  What can we learn from his incredible life?  We will look at just two lessons from the Bull Moose.  The first will not surprise anyone who knows much about our Rough Rider.  The second will surprise most.

President of the United States Theodore Roosev...

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  • Bias for action: The list of Theodore Roosevelt’s lifetime achievements are too extensive to list here.  He is credited with changing American politics placing the White House at center stage.  He broke up monopolies, created the National Parks and passed early food safety laws.  Roosevelt was also a Harvard graduate and wrote 33 books.  Leaders take action.
  • Become genuinely interested in other people: This is a Dale Carnegie principle that President Roosevelt lived.  Carnegie draws on Roosevelt’s example several times in his books.  The President was known for staying up late the night before taking visitors in the White House.  He would read about the topics that interested his guests so he could intelligently discuss the interests of others.  He also knew all of the White House servants by name.  He even visited the White House after leaving office while President Taft and the First Lady were away so he could see the servants again.  His genuine interest in people made President Roosevelt a better leader.

I would like to hear from you.  What lessons can you take from the life of Theodore Roosevelt?  Are you a leader with a bias for action?  Are you a leader who takes a genuine interest in others?  How does your team see your leadership?  How can you become a better leaders today?

Best Regards,

Christian Paulsen

The Lean Leadership Blog

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About Christian Paulsen

Christian Paulsen is an Executive Consultant with 20 years of Lean Manufacturing. Chris adds value to organizations by driving process improvement and bottom line savings. Chris intends to help others by sharing the lessons learned after a quarter century of operational leadership, marriage, parenting, and even longer as a Cubs fan. Your comments on this blog are welcome. You can also connect with Chris via LinnkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook in the right sidebar. Chris welcomes your comments. Christian's professional services are available by contacting him through LinkedIn (right side bar)
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9 Responses to The Bull Moose

  1. Gerhard W.Kessler says:

    Great article….In fact, the more you interact with people the more you will understand their position and thoughts as well the other way around.
    If your people finally understand what your vision will be they will not question your decisions anymore , at least less. Sure it takes time to listen and to explain-but it is a good investment longterm.

    • Gerhard,

      Thank you for your comments. Taking the time to understand your individual team members will facilitate better communication. Taking the time to articulate your vision and reasons for decisions will certainly get more people on board. Thanks for your insight.


  2. Laine D says:

    A very valuable and valid story for this painful time. As usual Chris you hit the nail squarely on the head.

    We must look at people and see what they do rather than judge them or blame them based on rhetoric or party bias.

    Laine D
    Aspire to Inspire

  3. Katie says:

    Where did you find your information regarding your section about becoming genuinely interested in other people? I am writing a paper and would like to read more about that and cite that information if possible. Thank you.

  4. Dee says:

    Very interesting post. As a cancer advocate we are told that that it is important for legislators to understand who we are as people and how cancer has affected our lives and the lives of our family and community. If they are interested in us then we have a better chance of getting their support.

  5. Pingback: Guest Post: 4 Tips from Historic Leaders « Beyond Lean

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