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Ronald Reagan LeadershipRonald Reagan Leadership


Ronald Reagan (1911-2004)


Movie actor who became American president (1980-9).

Extremely popular in America, because he (pictured right) ended the Cold War with Russia (then the Soviet Union), and gave Americans renewed hope and spirit after years of high inflation and unemployment.


Why was he a great leader?


1. Communication

He lived up to his nickname of “The Great Communicator” with his down-to-earth language and self-deprecating humour that touched Americans’ hearts.Ronald Reagan Leadership

After a failed assassination attempt in 1981, he told his wife, Nancy (pictured right in 1983), “Honey, I forgot to duck”, and joking about his old age, he often said,

“I have left orders to be awakened at any time in case of national emergency, even if I’m in a Cabinet meeting”.


2. Principles

He strongly believed in the principles of

  • self-reliance.
  • self-discipline.
  • responsible liberty.

He attacked government interference in people’s lives, and the welfare state, which he believed made people lazy, . 

“Government is not the solution to a problem. Government is the problem”, he said.


3. Economic success

In 1981 he:

  • slashed income tax by a quarter,
  • reduced interest rates and increased competition

These policies aimed to

  • motivate people to work harder. Ronald Reagan Leadership 
  • encourage companies to become more profitable and increase their production.

This was called supply-side economics, nicknamed “Reaganomics” and very similar to the policies of Britain's Margaret Thatcher (pictured right together in 1981).

This gave America its longest ever period of prosperity from 1982 until 1991.

Middle class and wealthier people did particularly well, helped by the rapidly rising stock market.

 Ronald Reagan Leadership

4. Tough

Helped by his close friend, Margaret Thatcher. he was tough in his stance against the Soviet Union (now Russia), rapidly increasing military spending.

Previously America had adopted the more conciliatory policy of détente.

His policy led to the collapse of the Soviet Union and its empire in Eastern Europe, symbolized by the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989.Ronald Reagan Leadership

In a 1987 speech at the Berlin Wall (pictured right above), he told the Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev (pictured right in 1987), to “tear down this wall”.


 5. Learning

His policy towards the Soviet Union became more conciliatory, negotiating arms reduction treaties after a NATO military exercise in 1983 nearly triggered off a nuclear war.

But he did controversially support the “star wars” plan of armed satellites orbiting over the earth to protect America from nuclear attack.

He also learned from listening to and understanding other people’s views.Ronald Reagan Leadership

For example, he spent billions on AIDS after initially ignoring the disease.


6. Renewed hope

Like Franklin D. Roosevelt (pictured right) in the 1930’s, he got people believing in themselves again.

“As long as we remember our first principles and believe in ourselves, the future will be ours”, Reagan said.


7. Vision

Reagan (pictured right in 1964 with his wife, Nancy) always had a clear future ideal for America, based on the individual’s:Ronald Reagan Leadership

  • freedom.
  • moral responsibility.
  • security from outside attack.


 8. Image

His political opponents, the Democrats, called him the “Teflon president”, because his charm and clean image meant no political dirt could stick on him.

 Ronald Reagan Leadership

9. Delegation

He picked good people, making clear his broad policy aims and then giving them the power to carry them out.

Delegation allowed him to work less and relax more (pictured right in 1976 at his Californian ranch).

He spent an eighth of his presidency (345 days) riding and doing chores at his ranch.


Key quotes on leadership

But if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else?

Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority and don’t interfere.


Key quotes on government and politics

Government is the problem.

If you invent a better mousetrap, the government comes along with a better mouse.

Politics is supposed to be the second oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first.


Key quotes on society

We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.

Information is the oxygen of the modern age.


Key quotes on change

Status quo, you know, is Latin for the mess we’re in.


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