Our nation has had a wealth of great leaders. When selecting our first President, our founding fathers chose a man who had led our Army with great success and distinct character. In selecting George Washington they set a precedent for the type of individual they believed to be worthy of leading our country, and they built a system of governance around that choice that they hoped would ensure the long-term success of our new nation. Since the inception of the U.S. Presidency, 43 men have held the office. (Yes, Barak Obama is the 44th President, but Grover Cleveland was elected to two split terms making him both the 22nd and 24th President.)
Our leaders have come from a great number of backgrounds: military men, lawyers, historians, writers, teachers, farmers, and even a newspaper editor and an actor. Each of them had their own nickname(s) that defined their personal leadership style and/or defined their presidency. Can you recall the Presidents who earned these timeless monikers?
- The Sage of Monticello– Thomas Jefferson-Known for his wisdom and calm judgment and his love for his home at Monticello this nickname was rendered when Jefferson died.
- Old Hickory– Andrew Jackson- allegedly given to him by his Soldiers for being “as tough as old hickory”.
- Old Rough and Ready– Zachary Taylor- Given for his actions in the military, known to be “rough and ready” for a fight.
- The Fainting General– Franklin Pierce-A sneering reference by political opponents to an incident during a Mexican War battle when an artillery blast blew the saddle off Pierce’s horse and drove the saddle-horn hard into his abdomen, causing him to lose consciousness for a few minutes.
- The Great Emancipator– Abraham Lincoln- For his drafting of the “Emancipation Proclamation” to free southern slaves.
- His Obstinacy– Grover Cleveland- For vetoing more legislation than all 21 of his predecessors combined.
- The Lion & The Trust Buster– Theodore Roosevelt-So called for his “go-getter style” and as a pioneer in busting business trusts.
- The Phrasemaker– Woodrow Wilson- As an acclaimed historian, Wilson had no need of speech writers to supply his oratorical eloquence (i.e. His Fourteen Points).
- The Kansas Cyclone– Dwight Eisenhower- Known as one of the most fearsome backs in collegiate football, he played for West Point and famously sacked Jim Thorpe before sustaining a knee injury. Friends said he approached everything in life much like the game of football, always seeking a victory.
- The Great Communicator– Ronald Reagan- In reference to Reagan’s ability to connect verbally and visually with the American people.
- Another notable: The Great Engineer– Herbert Hoover- He was a civil engineer of some distinction and when the Mississippi burst its banks in 1927, engulfing thousands of acres of agricultural land, he volunteered his services and did extensive flood control work.
I’d like you to notice something about the coined titles rendered to our nation’s leaders- the titles represent two things: personal characteristics and actions taken. Throughout history it’s become quite clear that leaving a legacy as a leader requires both personal substance and definitive action.
Monday Morning Perspective
“The history of the world is full of men who rose to leadership, by sheer force of self-confidence, bravery and tenacity.”- Mahatma Gandhi
This week I challenge you to examine how much of your ability to lead others is based upon personal characteristics (great listening skills, gifted speaking ability that motivates others, creative intuition for problem solving, etc.) and how much is based upon purposeful action (things you’ve actually set in motion). If your success has been realized by heavily favoring one area over the other, it’s time to balance the scales. Great leaders are truly a summation of impeccable character and decisive action.
Happy President’s Day and Have a Wonderful Week!
© Crystal Dyer 2011. All rights reserved.