Ronald Reagan 1911-2004
Dean A. Smith
Organizational Behavior and Leadership
Aristotle summed up greatness as the ability to translate wisdom into action on behalf of public good. This, he said requires a combination of the key traits of moral virtue, practical wisdom, and public- spiritedness. In addition to knowing what is good for oneself, great leaders must know what is good for others as well. Aristotle went on to explain that it is not enough to be wise or intelligent, as “intelligence is at the opposite pole from practical wisdom”, and the key traits must be in fine balance, and must be equally matched to the particular circumstances of time and place (Hayward). Such was the case with our 40th President of the United States, Ronald Reagan.
Ronald Wilson Reagan was a man of humble beginnings, and did not seek political office until he was well into his fifties. Born and raised in small towns in Illinois, he had a strong optimistic religious faith and was very much interested in sports, acting, and storytelling. Reagan also had a particularly strong faith in the goodness of people, and his opposition to racial discrimination at a young age was well ahead of its time (Kengor).
Reagan’s religious faith was impressed upon him early by his mother Nelle. His storytelling was learned from his father Jack; an imperfect role model and salesman who moved the family often.
Earning a degree in Economics and Sociology from Eureka College in Illinois, Reagan pursued a career in radio and film after graduation. He quipped in self-deprecating humor that his career in film was in large part due to a talent scout’s ineptness in giving him a chance as an actor (History). After some years and a notable degree of success as a Hollywood actor, Reagan became involved with the Screen Actors Guild – becoming a leader in that organization. He was a noted liberal democrat in 1941, and served in the Army making training films during World War II due to his reported poor eyesight.
1950’s saw Reagan working for General Electric (GE), traveling across the country talking with workers and small business owners. It was during this time that he transitioned to conservatism. Serving as California’s governor for eight years in the 1960’s, he learned to compromise, with the exception of with those whom he believed broke the rules. Reagan as a politician was served well by a previous acting career and his many speeches when working for GE. One of his most famous was at the 1976 Republican convention when he was invited by presidential nominee / President Gerald Ford to make a few comments. Reagan was gracious and focused on the bigger picture for the nation, setting the tone for his future calmness under pressure and his keen ability to communicate to a wide audience.
This study of competencies will focus primarily on Reagan’s years as president, where he proved to be one of the world’s best leaders of the 20th century. Leadership is the process of developing ideas and a vision, living by values that support those ideas and that vision, and influencing others to embrace them. Leadership includes the ability to make difficult decisions on a myriad of topics, as well as the seven foundation competencies (Hellriegel & Slocum). The examination of the seven competencies for a chosen leader is instrumental and instructive for students of history, and will be utilized to briefly review this extraordinary leader.
A competency is an interrelated cluster of knowledge, skills, and abilities needed by the individual for effective performance. These seven key competencies, which include ethics, self-competency, diversity, across cultures, communication, teams, and change, affect the behavior and effectiveness of each leader. These competencies will be reviewed individually in a segmented format. Ethics
Ethics competency is...