Not everyone admired Barbara Bush… because not everyone met her.
Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration, and haters are gonna’ hate, but it’s not that far from the truth.
We at Triangle Performance aren’t so pretentious that anything we say about “The First Lady of the Greatest Generation” could compare with the tributes from her family and friends. Those accolades beautifully express the admiration of so many from around the world and from every walk of life.
No, we’d like to express our admiration for her leadership style(s) – as the First and Second Lady, family matriarch, and tireless champion of literacy.
Barbara Bush was never the CEO of a Fortune X00 company, never held elected or appointed office, and never commanded troops or fought in combat. Nonetheless, you knew she was a leader by the devotion of her followers.
In the White House and Naval Observatory, her leadership power came partly from her role as FLOTUS and SLOTUS and partly from the respect and admiration that came from being such a gracious, caring person. At home – whichever home her family gathered – her nickname “The Enforcer” pretty much says it all. In those roles, people desired to gain her approval and sought her counsel accordingly.
It was in her philanthropic efforts that her leadership relied solely on her ability to influence and inspire her loyal army of volunteers and followers. None of them worked for her, but they trusted her to lead them in their fight against literacy. Schools, libraries, parenting centers, hospitals, and the Houston Literacy Foundation, to name a few, all bear her name as a testament to their commitment.
In her memoir, Bush wrote “… a more literate America would benefit every single thing I worry about: crime, unemployment, pollution, teenage pregnancy, school drop-outs, women who are trapped into welfare, and therefore poverty, etc.”
A leader who can articulate a vision and inspire, motivate, and empower others to achieve that vision is a successful leader indeed. But a leader who can do that without being in charge is something extraordinarily special.
We are both honored and humbled to name Barbara Pierce Bush our April 2018 Leadership Leader.