Leadership the Eleanor Roosevelt Way: Timeless Strategies from the First Lady of Courage

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Eleanor Roosevelt's remarkable ability to confront and overcome hurdles-be they political, personal, or social-made her one of the greatest leaders of the last century, if not all time. In Leadership the Eleanor Roosevelt Way, author and scholar Robin Gerber examines the values, tactics, and beliefs that enabled Eleanor Roosevelt to bring about tremendous change-in herself and in the world. Examining the former first lady's rise from a difficult childhood to her enormously productive and politically involved years in the White House, as a U.N. delegate and an honorary ambassador, an author, and beyond, Gerber offers women an inspiring road map to heroic living and an unparalleled model for personal achievement.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
First lady, author, and ambassador, Eleanor Roosevelt (1884–1962) earned her leadership stripes during one of the most contentious periods of American history. Believing that Roosevelt's leadership experiences can benefit us all, Robin Gerber, J.D., a senior fellow at the University of Maryland's Academy of Leadership, has distilled instructive stories from the first lady's long and busy life.
From the Publisher
"Drawing on Eleanor Roosevelt's inspiring life and words, Robin Gerber has given us a powerful primer for leaders in any field and of any political stripe." (Congressman Richard Gephardt, House Democratic Leader)

"[Gerber] tells Eleanor's story with descriptive flair and gives readers wise advice about finding their leadership passion and following it." (Billie Jean King)

"Like Mohandas Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr., Eleanor Roosevelt seems a miracle of character and charisma, a born leader whom no one could hope to emulate. Robin Gerber penetrates this aura . . . and exposes the nuts and bolts of an eminently practical leadership style-one from which we can all learn and learn much." (Alan Axelrod, author of Patton on Leadership and Elizabeth I, CEO)

"Eleanor Roosevelt changed the world with her leadership. Robin Gerber tells us how she did it, weaving the first lady's life story and words into empowering leadership advice for today . . . [A] great read and a terrific leadership guide." (Lt. General Claudia Kennedy)

Publishers Weekly
Gerber, a senior fellow at the University of Maryland's Academy of Leadership, idolizes Roosevelt as someone who overcame numerous hardships in her personal life. Using biographical details from different periods of the first lady's colorful history, from childhood to the last few months of her life, Gerber shows how Roosevelt's actions are still relevant and can provide inspiration for women today. Although it feels forced at times, this approach works. For example, in the chapter on finding your "leadership passion," Gerber says, "Your values have taken time to develop. They're based on your family background, religion, relationships and experiences and they are a part of you. But unless your values have been tested they may not be apparent to you." She then goes on to explain how Roosevelt didn't recognize her own values after spending many years listening to her grandmother and her husband. But when she began speaking out against political injustices, she grew more comfortable with her own beliefs. Each chapter ends with key principles ("Eleanor's Way"); some of these points are useful, but others are tired (e.g., "Follow your authentic instincts" or "Be bold and principled in implementing your vision"). Despite these flaws, Gerber's work provides a thought-provoking look at a first lady with a unique style. (Oct. 11) Forecast: Warner is publishing David B. Roosevelt's Grandm re: A Personal History of Eleanor Roosevelt in October, which probably will help Gerber's sales. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Gerber, a labor lawyer, teacher, and senior fellow at the Academy of Leadership at the University of Maryland, here offers a self-help book for young women seeking to develop leadership skills. Noting the absence of leadership education materials that cite women as role models, Gerber has chosen to frame her advice around Eleanor Roosevelt and the difficult challenges she faced and overcame. Gerber's personal experience and vignettes from other successful women also illustrate the various lessons incorporated in each chapter, e.g., "Learn from Your Past," "Find Mentors and Advisers," "Learn from Adversity," and "Never Stop Learning." The chapter titled "Find Your Leadership Passion" describes ER's initiation in and reformist commitment to New York State politics and ends with a list of specific pointers under the heading of "Eleanor's Way," which in this instance includes the counsel to take the words I can't and should out of one's vocabulary. This book has a foreword by distinguished scholar James MacGregor Burns, and the publisher plans a major publicity campaign, but its audience is hard to define. For libraries with a large "self-help" clientele.-Cynthia Harrison, George Washington Univ., Washington, DC Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Soundview Executive Book Summaries
Gerber, a senior scholar at the University of Maryland's Academy of Leadership, examines the former first lady's leadership development from her earliest years through her careers as a United Nations delegate, honorary ambassador, and author. In Leadership the Eleanor Roosevelt Way, Gerber shows readers how they can discover and develop their leadership skills while she offers poignant advice about balancing love and ambition, struggling with fear of failure, and achieving personal goals. Copyright © 2003 Soundview Executive Book Summaries
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781591840206
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/28/2003
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 249,140
  • Product dimensions: 5.59 (w) x 8.22 (h) x 1.03 (d)

Meet the Author

Robin Gerber, the author of Leadership the Eleanor Roosevelt Way, is an international speaker on leadership, a national commentator, and an opinion writer for USA Today and other major newspapers. She is a senior fellow in executive education at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 10

"Human relationships, like life itself, can never remain static."
Eleanor Roosevelt

With a large oval brooch at her throat and a simple tailored dress, Eleanor looked "unusually smart and in soaring spirits," on April 12, 1945. After giving her speech at a charity event she sat listening to the tributes and musical entertainment that followed. Suddenly a messenger approached to whisper in her ear. She gave a quick start and went to the telephone. Press Secretary Steve Early was at the other end. He sounded, "very much upset," according to Eleanor, asking her to come home at once. "I did not even ask why. I knew down in my heart that something dreadful had happened."

Franklin Delano Roosevelt had died of a cerebral hemorrhage that afternoon.

After the President’s funeral, Eleanor quickly moved forward with her changed life. She thought of herself as being on her own. She wrote in her autobiography, "I had to face the future as countless other women have faced it without their husbands."

But in at least one critical way Eleanor’s future was much different than other women — she had networks of friends, colleagues, political supporters, those she had helped and who had helped her around the world and in the smallest towns. She had actively cultivated a rich and diverse web of people. Some served as personal support. Most were a vast resource for her leadership, just as their leadership was nurtured by knowing her. Eleanor’s gift for connecting with people and her strategic use of her connections offer leaders today a model for building, using and sustaining leadership networks.

Your networks will include some of the people you consider your audience or followers. It will include other leaders as well as people who you believe have potential to become followers and leaders. Your networks will include supporters and advisers, friends and mentors, even your family. You need to develop the people- connections in your life, understand how they can enhance your leadership and look for ways that you can enhance theirs.

Be intentional and strategic about building networks that further your goals.

Each issue you confront presents a different networking situation, and offers the opportunity to expand your contacts. Ask yourself: who can help me achieve my vision, how and when?

Jean Lipmen Blumen in The Connective Edge talks about leaders skilled in the social style who develop "social networks," or "Lego for grownups." These leaders have a strong political sense and they "focus on the connective tissue between people and groups…;.Leaders who favor social styles call on relationships without embarrassment, guilt or discomfort."

What Lipmen Blumen describes is a two-step process. First you need to be open to the people connections around you, then you need to develop the contacts that promise a mutually helpful relationship. A one-way network is not a network anymore than a one-way conversation is a conversation. The creative energy of your networks lies in discovering the tapestry of information, influence and support that can be woven between and among your relationships.

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Table of Contents

Foreword (James MacGregor Burns)



Time Line


Chapter One: Learn from Your Past
Chapter Two: Find Mentors and Advisers
Chapter Three: Mothering: Training for Leadership
Chapter Four: Learning the Hard Way
Chapter Five: Find Your Leadership Passion
Chapter Six: Your Leadership Your Way
Chapter Seven: Give Voice to Your Leadership
Chapter Eight: Face Criticism with Courage
Chapter Nine: Keep Your Focus
Chapter Ten: Contacts, Networks, and Conditions
Chapter Eleven: Embrace Risk
Chapter Twelve: Never Stop Learning


"I Want You to Write to Me"





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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2013

    Eleanor Roosevelt

    very interesting book!

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