A Leader is Willing to Confront Tough Issues: Applying 100 Leaders in World History in the Classroom

Post by Lynne O’Hara, NHD Director of Programs

The 100 Leaders in World History program, sponsored by Kenneth E. Behring, is designed to help students think about the idea of leadership. A key piece of a democratic society is the need to evaluate and select leaders at the local, state, and national level. We hope that this study of historical leaders will help students evaluate the leaders of the past and construct intelligent, informed opinions about the leaders of the present.

Each day this week we are posting to this blog about one of the five criteria that our selection panel used to determine the 100 Leaders in World History. The five criteria are:

  • Articulates a vision,
  • Motivates others,
  • Makes effective decisions,
  • Willing to confront tough issues, and
  • Impacts history.

Today we are discussing how a leader is willing to confront tough issues.

Willing to Confront Tough Issues

Sitting Bull [Source: O. S. Goff (photographer), 1881, Library of Congress]

Sitting Bull [Source: O. S. Goff (photographer), 1881, Library of Congress]

Leaders need to deal with issues that challenge their societies.  Margaret Sanger, Harvey Milk, Jonas Salk, and Mother Theresa addressed problems that they saw.  Often these leaders are polarizing – some people believe that they made good decisions while others disagree.  Consider the economic challenges faced by Ronald Reagan or the post-World War II landscape tackled by George MarshallTheodore Roosevelt and Mohandas Gandhi saw societies in need of change and helped to make that change happen.

Often these leaders take positions that are at odds with the majority of the people in their time, like Sitting Bull’s opposition to American expansionism or Eleanor Roosevelt’s resigning her membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Make sure you stop by tomorrow for an update on the next of the five criteria: impacts history!


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