Some Americans today feel that we have a crisis in leadership. The line of thinking goes that we do not have a person to truly lead us, even with the presence of our 44th President. It is true that in the world today, we do not have a Martin Luther King Jr., Franklin Delano Roosevelt, or Nelson Mandela type of icon. The obvious question that has not been asked however is whether in the year 2014, we need and would accept a modern Roosevelt.
On March 12, 1933, Roosevelt eased the minds of Americans when he held his first Fireside Chat, addressing their concerns about the banking crisis over their radios. Those Fireside Chats established Roosevelt as an American icon who embodied the ideal of a leader. Today, the public is able to voice its opinion on every issue, big or small, in 140 characters or less. Roosevelt made riveting speeches to the American public in which each word was not scrutinized as much as enjoyed. When President Obama makes a speech, each word is analyzed as if it were an individual nuclear missile, each ready to start a miniature political war. How is President Obama supposed to encompass a nation in a blanket of leadership if he gets verbally destroyed before the blanket is even knitted?
Leadership is a product of necessity. During the presidency of Roosevelt, the nation was faced with one of its greatest challenges, the Great Depression. The people, many of them poor and disillusioned with America, needed a leader. Roosevelt proved to be the man for the job, as his New Deal policies lifted the country out of one of its darkest times. In today’s world, it is an understatement to say that we have issues. However, our issues today, such as a growing national deficit, do not smack us in the face as hard as the Great Depression struck Americans in the 1930s. Batman was never needed in Gotham until a villain emerged. Until a clear villain emerges in the ilk of the Joker, we will not have another Batman like Roosevelt.
Leadership, at times, can be looked at in too broad a scope. The people who complain about a lack of leadership need to follow the famous advice of Mahatma Gandhi: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
One never needs to see over a podium in order to be a leader. By acting with class and dignity each day, a person can inspire those around them. Within the sporting world, Derek Jeter is a prime example of this. Jeter does not make giant, inspirational speeches or even talk at all in most cases. Instead, he just shows up each and everyday and does his best to help the Evil Empire win games. He also does not draw unnecessary attention to himself off the field, which is amazing considering he plays in the fishbowl media market of New York. Because of this blue-collar approach, Jeter is one of the most respected players in the game and undoubtedly the leader of the Yankees.
The next time that you, the reader, are looking for a leader, look within yourself. See what you can do that day to inspire those around you. The change may not be immediate, but over time the more leaders we have, the less we need to depend on others to lead.