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Eleanor Roosevelt - Success and LeadershipEleanor Roosevelt - Success and Leadership


Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962)


American wife (pictured right in 1951) of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Famous for her defence of the rights of women, African Americans, workers and oppressed people everywhere.

The niece of President Theodore Roosevelt (pictured right below).Eleanor Roosevelt - Success and Leadership


Why was she successful and a great leader?


1. Learning

She never lost her natural curiosity for:

  • new ideas  Eleanor Roosevelt - Success and Leadership
  • new knowledge (which, she said, is more useful than anything else).

Her biggest influences were

  • Marie Souvestre (the headmistress of her boarding school, near London)
  • her husband, Franklin, whom she married in 1905 (pictured right in 1908 with their children, Anna and James).


2. Determination and courage

She was a courageous fighter of injustice everywhere. She strongly supported the rights of women (including contraception) and African Americans.

Her biggest achievement was helping to draft the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

She also had the determination to battle through personal problems:

  • depression and insecurity.
  • the early death of her parents.
  • her upbringing by an unloving grandmother. Eleanor Roosevelt - Success and Leadership
  • her six children’s unsuccessful private lives.
  • her husband’s affair with Lucy Mercer (pictured right), which nearly led to a divorce. She was deeply hurt by this relationship, which lasted until his death.


3. Assertiveness and self-confidence


  • strongly defended her ideas and beliefs (believing that women have the same rights as men).
  • wanted to find her own identity (independent of her famous husband and her role as a homemaker).
  • believed that everyone must live their life in their own way and not according to anybody else’s ideas.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”, she said


 Eleanor Roosevelt - Success and Leadership4. Contact with ordinary people

After Franklin Roosevelt’s paralysis from polio in 1921, Eleanor (pictured right in 1932) became his “eyes and ears”, travelling the country and meeting the people to find out their views and needs.

She learned there is good and bad in everyone.



5. TeamworkEleanor Roosevelt - Success and Leadership

Eleanor and Franklin made an exceptional team with complementary skills (pictured right together).

She was a moral crusader, while he was more aware of what was politically possible.

For example, she fought to end segregation and discrimination between whites and blacks

But Franklin was less publicly supportive of blacks to win more of the white vote.


6. Putting people first

She wanted everyone (particularly the oppressed and exploited), to be free and happy through:

  • education.
  • the open exchange of ideas and information.
  • the law.
  • a change in people's attitudes (most important of all).

“Laws are only observed with the consent of the individuals and a moral change still depends on the individual”, she said.

 Eleanor Roosevelt - Success and Leadership

7. Principle

Eleanor Roosevelt (pictured right with the singer, Frank Sinatra, in 1960) believed in the importance of:

  • fighting for her beliefs to the best of her ability.
  • character (living her life honestly and courageously).

She joked that a woman is like a tea bag, because she gets stronger in hot water!

“Do what you feel in your heart to be right”, she said


8. Aims and action

She always stretched herself to:

  • lead the best possible life,
  • decide what she needed to do.
  • act boldly.

“We cannot procrastinate. The world of the future is in our making. Tomorrow is now”, she said.


Key quotes on decision making

You must do the things you think you cannot do

Do what you feel in your heart to be right

What you don’t do can be a destructive force.


Key quote on law

Laws are only observed with the consent of the individuals and a moral change still depends on the individual


Key quotes on assertiveness

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

Remember always that you not only have the right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one.


Key quote on fear and anxiety

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.


Key quote on war

It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.


Key quote on relationships

The most important thing in any relationship is not what you get but what you give.


Key quote on influencing people

When you cease to make a contribution, you begin to die.


Key quote on love

Pain through love is the purifying fire which those who love generously know.


Key quote on objectives and vision

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.


Key quote on stress and pain

It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.


Key quote on management

It is not fair to ask of others what you are not willing to do yourself.


Key quote on time management

We cannot procrastinate. The world of the future is in our making. Tomorrow is now.


Key quote on happiness

Happiness is not a goal, it is a by-product.

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