Leadership the Eleanor Roosevelt Way
Timeless Strategies from the First Lady of Courage
Eleanor Roosevelt's remarkable ability to confront and overcome hurdles-be they political, personal, or social-made her one of the greatest leaders of the last century, if not all time. In Leadership the Eleanor Roosevelt Way, author and scholar Robin Gerber examines the values, tactics, and beliefs that enabled Eleanor Roosevelt to bring about tremendous change-in herself and in the world. Examining the former first lady's rise from a difficult childhood to her enormously productive and politically involved years in the White House, as a U.N. delegate and an honorary ambassador, an author, and beyond, Gerber offers women an inspiring road map to heroic living and an unparalleled model for personal achievement.
"Human relationships, like life itself, can never remain static."
With a large oval brooch at her throat and a simple tailored dress, Eleanor looked "unusually smart and in soaring spirits," on April 12, 1945. After giving her speech at a charity event she sat listening to the tributes and musical entertainment that followed. Suddenly a messenger approached to whisper in her ear. She gave a quick start and went to the telephone. Press Secretary Steve Early was at the other end. He sounded, "very much upset," according to Eleanor, asking her to come home at once. "I did not even ask why. I knew down in my heart that something dreadful had happened."
Franklin Delano Roosevelt had died of a cerebral hemorrhage that afternoon.
After the President’s funeral, Eleanor quickly moved forward with her changed life. She thought of herself as being on her own. She wrote in her autobiography, "I had to face the future as countless other women have faced it without their husbands."
But in at least one critical way Eleanor’s future was much different than other women -- she had networks of friends, colleagues, political supporters, those she had helped and who had helped her around the world and in the smallest towns. She had actively cultivated a rich and diverse web of people. Some served as personal support. Most were a vast resource for her leadership, just as their leadership was nurtured by knowing her. Eleanor’s gift for connecting with people and her strategic use of her connections offer leaders today a model for building, using and sustaining leadership networks.
Your networks will include some of the people you consider your audience or followers. It will include other leaders as well as people who you believe have potential to become followers and leaders. Your networks will include supporters and advisers, friends and mentors, even your family. You need to develop the people- connections in your life, understand how they can enhance your leadership and look for ways that you can enhance theirs.
Be intentional and strategic about building networks that further your goals.
Each issue you confront presents a different networking situation, and offers the opportunity to expand your contacts. Ask yourself: who can help me achieve my vision, how and when?
Jean Lipmen Blumen in The Connective Edge talks about leaders skilled in the social style who develop "social networks," or "Lego for grownups." These leaders have a strong political sense and they "focus on the connective tissue between people and groups….Leaders who favor social styles call on relationships without embarrassment, guilt or discomfort."
What Lipmen Blumen describes is a two-step process. First you need to be open to the people connections around you, then you need to develop the contacts that promise a mutually helpful relationship. A one-way network is not a network anymore than a one-way conversation is a conversation. The creative energy of your networks lies in discovering the tapestry of information, influence and support that can be woven between and among your relationships.
Foreword (James MacGregor Burns)
"Eleanor Roosevelt changed the world with her leadership. Robin Gerber tells us how she did it, weaving the first lady's life story and words into empowering leadership advice for today . . . [A] great read and a terrific leadership guide." (Lt. General Claudia Kennedy)
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