Leadership Of Former President Ronald Thesis

Length: 8 pages Sources: 5 Subject: Leadership Type: Thesis Paper: #50439137 Related Topics: Iran Contra Affair, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Women Leadership, Military Leadership
Excerpt from Thesis :

He learned quickly, showed political prowess, was not afraid to lead his followers in troubled times (like the Screen Actors' strike), and he could think on his feet, develop his own very moving speeches, and he had very strong beliefs which he was not afraid to voice. All of these are qualities of a leader, and they developed as he made his way thorough life.

Reagan, with support of some friends and political leaders, began toying with the notion of running for governor in California. Cannon notes,

Reagan, despite never having spent a day in public office, had political assets that his opponents failed to recognize. Foremost among these was that he was widely known and liked [...] He was an effective speaker -- in person, on radio, and on television -- with an intangible quality of identifying with his audiences and reflecting their values (Cannon 38).

In 1966, Reagan ran for governor against three-term incumbent Pat Brown, and he won, he was sworn in as Governor of California in January 1967. He was not worried about his lack of his political experience; he knew he could learn what he needed to do to run the government on the job. This is another strong quality of a leader, confidence, because it inspires followers to continue to follow, and it inspires confidence in the leader, as well.

Reagan ended up in a leadership role from a young age. It is clear that somehow, he emulated a leader and others looked to him as a leader. From his leadership in college, to the Screen Actors' Guild, the GE speeches, and his rise in the Republican Party to become governor, he always had leadership qualities like honesty, conviction, smart sense, and public speaking. The more he engaged in these activities, the more leadership qualities he discovered and allowed to grow, and that in turn would simply help him grow more powerful politically. Throughout his life, he was chosen or elected to leadership roles, another clue that he simply "was" a leader as he matured, and people recognized it. It is more than charisma that defines a leader, although he certainly had that. People had faith in him, and that helps define a leader, as well. In fact, you could really define leadership with Reagan's example, because in whatever job he took, he eventually ended up in a leadership position, attesting to his leadership skills and qualities that followed him throughout his lifetime.

There is not much more power or influence than the President of the United States, so Reagan attained the ultimate in power and influence when he was elected president. His primary sources of power were his political prowess and his ability to connect with his audience, something he learned as an actor, and so, he always seemed honest, sincere, and sure of himself, and he oozed integrity, all qualities that define a great leader. Some leaders lead by intimidation {Russia's Putin and Saddam Hussein are excellent examples), and others lead by example. Reagan led by example, and he did not use his great power and influence to benefit himself, another mark of a good leader. He always tried to do what was right for his followers, and he always tried to influence people to do what was right for their followers. Another excellent example is Reagan's quest to open up the Communist Block in Europe and tear down the Berlin Wall. He urged Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to bring democracy to the Soviet Union, and free Berlin, and his influence eventually had success. Reagan was not afraid to use his power, and sometimes he used it ineffectually, such as in the Iran-Contra Affair and in the Star Wars initiative, but he did use his power effectively and for the good of the people, something that cannot be said of all powerful and influential leaders.

Reagan's values mirror his origins and early life. He grew up in the Midwest in a small town, and he retained many of those core values throughout his entire...


He grew up valuing honesty, strength, kindness, and integrity, and he embodied those things throughout his life. He genuinely liked people and really wanted to help them live better lives. He appreciated others and respected their opinions, and he carried all these values with him throughout his life.

It is interesting to note that he did include minorities and others in his groups of followers. His politics attracted many people who had traditionally been Democrats. Two other writers note, "The so-called Reagan Revolution owed much to Ronald Reagan's appeal to traditional Democrats, particularly blue-collar workers, often urban Catholics from the Northeast and Middle West, and southern Protestants, often rural and religious, who had been Democrats since the Civil War" (Siracusa, and Coleman 249). In addition, he appointed a woman, Sandra Day O'Conner, to the Supreme Court (the first woman in history), appointed Samuel R. Pierce, Jr., an African-American, as secretary of housing and urban development, and several women in the cabinet, including Jeanne J. Kirkpatrick, Elizabeth Dole, and Margaret M. Heckler. Thus, he brought new blood to the White House administration, and he chose the best people he thought were qualified for the job, rather than relying on white men who certainly did not represent a majority of the country's population and beliefs.

Based on the Five Factor Model, it is no wonder Reagan was such a successful leader. The five factors are extroversion-introversion, neuroticism (stability or instability), agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness. Reagan scores highly on just about every model of the five factors. He was certainly an extrovert, as his speeches and sense of humor clearly indicated. In fact, it would seem it would be difficult to near impossible to be an introvert and a politician, the two simply do not mesh. Reagan was stable, particularly stable due to his small-town values and philosophy, and he was certainly agreeable. After he died, another writer notes, "He presented himself as a regular guy as opposed to a career politician, a conservative in favor of small government, a peddler of simple solutions who left the political realities to his aides [...] it was his charm and his undoubted belief in himself and America that propelled him towards Washington" (Young). Finally, he was extremely conscientious and open with the American people, and with the world. People knew where they stood with Ronald Reagan, and that makes him a usually likable and respected leader. At his memorial service, Margaret Thatcher said, "Ronald Reagan knew his own mind. He had firm principles and, I believe, right ones. He expounded them clearly. He acted upon them decisively" (Von Drehle). These are the words of a leader who respected Reagan, but who seemed to like him as well, and that may well be because of the positive traits he showed to the world.

According to the triarchic approach of intelligence, a person's analytical, creative, and practical traits identify their intelligence, and Reagan was relatively intelligent. He did not seem to be highly intelligent or a genius, but he certainly was intelligent in the analytical, creative, and practical sense. This is illustrated by his ability to choose good advisors (for the most part), come up with creative solutions to complex problems, and be practical in the face of rising inflation and other problems that faced the country. He did not lead the country on tangents or use impractical theories and ideas; he intelligently planned out his actions and ideas, and brought them to the people for approval. He was also able to motivate people, he was a good writer, he knew how to delegate, and he could "read" people which all point to his intelligence and common sense. Another writer notes, "It was Reagan who pulled America out of its Carterite malaise and moroseness -- who not only proclaimed a new 'morning in America," but made it happen with his lopsided grin and infectious optimism" (Joffe). He also had many traits of emotional intelligence, including the ability to understand emotions and use them to promote personal growth, both in himself and in others.

Reagan's behavior is legendary, and he often used a sense of humor to get him through rough times. Author Young continues, "Reagan showed his courage and style throughout the incident and quips such as 'Honey, I forgot to duck' (to his wife Nancy) and 'Please tell me you're Republicans' (to the surgeons about to operate on him) have gone down in Reagan folklore" (Young). On the leadership grid, he falls between 9.1 and 9.9, he initiates team action and loyalty in his followers and explores alternative views, but he does control and manage situations and he expects results. He avoids self-defeating behavior, and does not change his opinions to please his followers; in fact, he avoids…

Sources Used in Documents:


Cannon, Lou. Ronald Reagan: The Presidential Portfolio: A History Illustrated from the Collection of the Ronald Reagan Library and Museum. New York: Public Affairs, 2001.

Joffe, Josef. "The 'Amazing and Mysterious' Life of Ronald Reagan." The National Interest Fall 2004: 85+.

Siracusa, Joseph M., and David G. Coleman. Depression to Cold War: A History of America from Herbert Hoover to Ronald Reagan. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2002.

Von Drehle, David. "Reagan Hailed as Leader for 'the Ages'." WashingtonPost.com. 2004. 24 Oct. 2008. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A35593-2004Jun11.html

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