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The leader’s lesson FDR had to learn

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

When Franklin D. Roosevelt won the presidency in 1932, the 20th Amendment was not yet in place, meaning his inauguration would not take place until March 4, 1933, instead of Jan. 20. That gave the defeated Herbert Hoover, a very bitter lame duck, months to undermine Roosevelt.

Hoover used the presidency’s bully pulpit to speak out angrily against FDR and lined up political opposition to Roosevelt before he even stepped into the Oval Office.

Blind to the danger, Roosevelt announced that he would leave the national stage to go back to Albany and finish his term as New York governor.

But Roosevelt’s advisers warned him that, unless he acted decisively to trumpet his New Deal programs before taking office, they might never leave the launch pad. Roosevelt listened.

Leadership lesson: When the reins of control pass to you, seize them. Few outgoing leaders can resist the urge to get in a few last licks.

— Adapted from Franklin D. Roosevelt: Launching the New Deal, Frank Freidel, Little, Brown.

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