3 Lessons from the Gipper – Another Look

Ronald Reagan speaking in front of the Branden...

Image via Wikipedia

There was an assassination attempt on the life of President Ronald Reagan 30 years ago today.  This is a great time to look at a few of the many lessons we can learn from his leadership.  This article was originally posted in 2010:

[tweetmeme]“There are no constraints on the human mind, no walls around the human spirit, no barriers to our progress except those we ourselves erect.”
~Ronald Reagan

It is just sixty-nine days into the Presidency of Ronald Reagan. President Reagan is wearing a new blue suit and instead of his best watch, he choses an old one his wife Nancy had given him. The President is leaving the Hilton Hotel after delivering a speech to the Construction Trades Council. Suddenly he hears a small fluttering sound, pop, pop, pop. Jerry Parr, Head of the Secret Service grabs the President and throws him into the back of the car. Secret Service Agent Tim McCarthy puts himself between the President and the gunman, John Hinkley Jr. He makes a spread eagle of himself to be as large of a target as possible and is shot in the chest. President Reagan has been shot. He is rushed to George Washington University Hospital. The new pin stripe suit is cut off President Reagan and he is hurried to the Operating Room. One of the doctors told the President that they were going to operate. President Reagan states, “I hope you are a Republican.” A nurse asks how he is feeling and he responds, “All in all, I’d rather be in Philadelphia” borrowing a line from W. C. Fields.

As you probably know, President Ronald Reagan survived the assassination attempt and went on to serve two terms as President of the United States.  The would be assassin was not the only challenge the President faced during his first 100 days in office.  He led the nation out of what is still the worst economic crisis this nation has faced other than the Great Depression.  He led us out of this crisis by controlling government spending and reducing taxes.  This formula was called Reaganomics. President Reagan is also credited with foreign policy victories including the end of the Cold War.  He squelched terrorism activities by bombing Libya, and used military action in Grenada to prevent the spread of communism and maintain stability in the Western Hemisphere.

Ronald Reagan is credited with being one of the greatest Presidents and is quite possibly the greatest President of the 20th Century.  What can we learn from the actor turned politician?

1.   Communicate the Vision – All great leaders have a vision.  This vision must be communicated over and over again.  You must be able to make everyone understand where you are going if you are going to lead them there.  Don’t be afraid to over communicate important messages.

2.  Stay True to Your Convictions – Anyone listening to the press or to the President’s critics would have thought that he was a bumbling fool.  They mocked him for believing tax cuts were the answer when his critics thought we needed more government programs.  They mocked him for his foreign policies.  Ronald Reagan had done his homework and never deviated from his convictions.  Do your homework, make sure you are on the right path, then don’t let your critics stand between you and your goals.

3.  It’s never too grim for some humor – The first thing President Reagan said to his wife was “Honey, I forgot to duck.”  The 40th President was trying to lighten the mood of those around him even as he is very close to dying.  Humor can ease tensions and allow people to focus on the task at hand.  Humor can send the message that we will get through it and that things are not as bad as they seem.  Don’t be afraid to have some fun at work.

Ronald Reagan was a great man, a great leader, and one of the greatest Presidents of all time.  He was known as The Great Communicator.  He was able to convey to an entire nation where we were going.  While there were certainly compromises in the spirit of working with others, President Reagan never compromised on his convictions.  He knew how and when to use humor to encourage those around him.

What will you do today to be more like Ronald Reagan?

[tweetmeme]“There are no easy answers’ but there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right.”

~Ronald Reagan
Much of the commentary is taken from President Reagan’s personal diary. Other facts were obtained from Wikipedia

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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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5 Responses to 3 Lessons from the Gipper – Another Look

  1. debmcalister says:

    Oh, dear! I won’t do ANYTHING today to be more like the Ronald Reagan who became president. I might do quite a bit to be like the Ronald Reagan who lead a trade union and stood up to the harassment of the House UnAmerican Activities Committee, taught at the Free University, and donated his time to help in a soup kitchen, though. Funny how that Reagan gets forgotten by history! Kind of like the Civil War Leader who pleaded for peace, argued that laws applied equally to free and slave alike and that injuring or killing a slave was a crime equal to killing or injuring a free man. No, it wasn’t Lincoln — it was Jefferson Davis.

    As Alex Haley said, “Winners write the history books”. And I guess we bloggers get to add our own little bits of wit and wisdom, right?

    Deb McAlister

    • Deb,

      Thanks for you comments. Ronald Reagan had a long life and accomplished much along the way. Wasn’t he the President of the Screen Actors Guild? Apparently he became more conservative in a political sense. It would be interesting to hear him take on that transformation. I suspect that he was a great man who wanted to help others throughout.

      All the best,

  2. Our nation needs a president like Ronald Reagan in the White House today.

  3. Pingback: Lose One for the Gipper

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