Dr. Rich Patterson

5 Skills & Qualities of Successful U.S. Presidents

Presidential historian Robert Dallek says that successful presidents exhibit five skills and qualities to achieve things that others don’t.  They are:

  1.  Vision
  2. Pragmatism
  3. Consensus building
  4. Charisma, and
  5. Trustworthiness

President Reagan was known as the “Great Communicator.”  Reagan could engage an audience and connect with them.  People believed him; he was trustworthy in his behaviors and relationships with other political leaders and his family.  Think of some presidential debates; some candidates quote facts and figures, while others engage with the audience.

Vision – takes imagination to see things that others do not: possibilities, prediction, and farsightedness.  Great leaders, which should be a goal for all of us, can see what others do not.  To do that, they must see beyond the challenges and negativity and look into what could be.  Take Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Great Depression.  Roosevelt could have given up with problems like unemployment, the poor, the banking crisis, the terrible economy, and numerous other problems of the time.  The “New Deal” was a series of programs, public works projects, and financial reforms and regulations enacted to help get the economy back.

Although others coined the term “New Deal,” Roosevelt promised “a new deal for the American people.”  He made it happen and worked diligently to execute this Vision to get the country back on track.  Sitting down with a family and asking, What is the Vision for our family?  This discussion will bring forth some great things upon which everyone can align their behavior.  

Pragmatism – among other definitions, is matter-of-factness, practicality that holds common sense.  Which President receives the most pragmatic distinction?  A few come to mind, but Woodrow Wilson is undoubtedly one.  He took control of the railroads and made the Senate and Congress bend to him and his goals.  His blunt and forward style kept people wondering what was next in so many ways.  Defining the quality for ourselves can take broad application depending on how we define it.

But to choose the practicality and common sense part of the definition allows us to interact and yet receive the support of others for our goals and personal work.  By being pragmatically honest with each other as a family, we can hold each other accountable to behavior standards that will raise everyone’s spiritual level.  

Consensus building – When I think of consensus-building, I feel about encouraging everyone to take a closer look at the general state of things from at least the 500-foot view.  We tend to get so close to something that all we can see is our concerns.  With consensus, you take the time to trade your magnifying lens of life in for a telescope and then pull it out to the 500-foot view and look at things in the sense of how they affect everyone instead of just you.

The application for a family is to sit down together, get a sense of how things are going from everyone’s perspective, and then work to blend an approach that helps to clarify a new plan that works for everyone.  Stephen R. Covey calls it the Third Alternative (Covey, 2004).  With so many people feeling frustrated, discouraged, unappreciated, and undervalued – using this technique helps everyone’s soul reach something higher.  

Charisma – Applying this noun in your life looks like making an extra effort to remain positive despite circumstances and pushing yourself to be patient, see the other person’s thoughts and frustrations, and help them reach higher.  Your thoughts magnetize your circumstances.  As parents, they were helping our kids see this and practice it in their lives provides a life-long tool for their inspiration.  

Trustworthiness – Notice that the word trustworthiness has the word worth in it.  Is your trust worthy?  Do you mean what you say and follow through with what you say?  If so, you don’t just say things that put others down; you are careful in expressing your opinion.  If someone is putting another person down, you say something like, “Hey, you know he is just in the other room, let’s go and get him so that he can hear this first hand.”  Or, “Sorry, I don’t say things about someone when they aren’t around, nor will I do so about you, and I think we both can appreciate that.”  That will generally get the process stopped and going in another direction.

By practicing this as a family with each other and having a signal that family members give to others when someone is whining about someone else, you can quickly raise to a higher level of performance.  In his 13 Precepts, Benjamin Franklin says, “Speak not about others but only what will benefit them.”    

Teaching these concepts to kids involves teaching integrity.  Here is a link to a series I wrote called Tips for Teens; click here Tips for Teens: Three Things for Success – Dr. Rich Patterson (pattersonphd.com)

Compass Charters website has a post on 5 Activities to Help Your Children Develop a Strong Sense of Integrity; click here 5 Activities To Help Your Children Develop a Strong Sense of Integrity – Compass Charter Schools.

Yours for Better Parenting,