Thursday, May 13, 2010

A Recommended Read on Leadership

This book may be four years old, but it is a classic, John O'Sullivan's The President, The Pope and the Prime Minister: Three Who Changed the World. Since I'm new to blogging, I'd be remiss if I did not mention it. O'Sullivan tells the story of the unlikely rise and successes of Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II and Margaret Thatcher. All three were never expected to be their states' (or in the case of the Pope) or their religion's leader because they were looked upon by their peers and their detractors as too rigid and far too ideological to successfully lead. Despite those unwarranted warnings, they became leaders as a result of the problems of the 1970s and the undying optimism they exhibited. While the voters (and followers) supported them and gave them the opportunity to lead, they were seen as a threat to their enemies and they each survived assassination attempts. Not only did the three successfully lead their own and reinvigorate their people, but they collaborated to once and for all, end the Cold War when it seemed as though detente would allow its continuation.

Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Pope John Paul II taught us three things:
  1. People want their leaders to be optimistic in nature as it's that optimism that instills pride, inspires hope and reinvigorates its people.
  2. Certain objectives cannot be compromised, especially key promises that leader makes to the led, and those led will admire the resolve of the leader.
  3. When people are given a choice between freedom and tyranny, they will choose freedom.

On a personal note, as a Gen Xer, I am truly inspired by these three. They all were at the helm in the 1980s, during my childhood and I remember their speeches, I remember their optimism and I remember the ramifications of their leadership, as the world does in 2010. Here are just a few clips so that we can all remember them in their prime.

Could not find a YouTube of one of Pope John Paul II's Youth Day speeches, but in a recent conversation with a priest who hails from Nigeria, he credits Pope John Paul II with inspiring him to join the Catholic Church and dedicate his life to preaching the word of God and help those less fortunate than he. Because of the Pope's passion, the recruiting of the world's youth and the return to true Catholicism, membership within the Catholic Church has grown by leaps and bounds during his time.

These leaders will forever be remembered and we all look to see who will be the next leaders to follow the lead of Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Karol Wojtyla.

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