Ronald Reagan the Servant Leader


I think one of my favorite stories of President Ronald Reagan is the time shortly after he was hot and was still in the Hospital. He woke up in the middle of the night he woke up and went to the bathroom.

“He slapped water on his face, and water slopped out of the sink,” Noonan relates. “He got some paper towels and got down on the floor to clean it up. An aide came in and said: `Mr. President, what are you doing? We have people for that.’ And Reagan said, oh, no, he was just cleaning up his mess, he didn’t want a nurse to have to do it.” (From the Modest Giant, Jeff Jacoby, June 10, 2004).

I think one of the marks of a great man is caring for others. I run with my friend on occasion who had the opportunity to meet President George W. Bush in the oval office. This week he was telling me that President Bush, aside from having really long ear hair, was really engaging and interested and just talked to them like normal people. They didn’t feel ill at ease at all.

The President was cleaning up his own mess (The Own it All Principle from The Little Book of Big Leadership Principles) because he cared about the nurse who was taking care of him and didn’t want her to get in any trouble from her supervisor. We need more leaders today who are willing to humble themselves and serve those around them. A President who cares for the nurse. That’s a great man. This actually fits a bunch of the leadership principles. Other’s First, Be Humble, Kill Your Ego.

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