Leadership Lessons Great and Small Seminar

The first half of the course draws major lessons from the lives of leading figures of the 20th century in the United States and abroad who had to overcome obstacles of various kinds on their way to leadership.

These include (in part) Franklin Roosevelt, dealing with physical disability through solid determination; Eleanor Roosevelt, conquering shyness and self-doubt by forcing herself to do the things she feared; Lyndon Johnson, escaping poverty and powerlessness by creating his own opportunities and using mentors; Winston Churchill, surviving disaster and defeat by refusing to give in; Barack Obama, leaping ahead of older and better-known rivals by a willingness to take risks; Margaret Thatcher, achieving power by steadfastly “ignoring facts”; T.E. Lawrence (“Lawrence of Arabia”), fulfilling his mission by deftly “leading from behind”; and Katharine Graham, assuming major leadership suddenly thrust upon her by simple concentration on the job at hand.

The second half presents a totally different focus, revealing numerous small but effective techniques on how to look and act in public: At receptions, banquets, sitting on stage, taking a tour, running a meeting, giving a talk, and more, down to attending a funeral and handing out awards. All these tips come from the instructor’s book How Important People Act, a tool he has used in corporate training.


  • The importance and value of reading the biographies of leaders to learn what they did right and wrong.
  • The different styles of leadership, different ways to achieve goals, and different ways to overcome obstacles.
  • Wealth, name, and connections may not help a bit when faced with challenges. In every case, the leader must reach inside himself/herself to summon a successful response.
  • The common traits of good leaders: Character, selflessness, self-discipline, concern for others, making decisions, independent judgment (not being a “yes man”), and taking responsibility.
  • The value of seeking and using a mentor.
  • The technique of working for a leader, perhaps someone on his/her way up, who will take you with him/her into a position of leadership.
  • The technique of making yourself valuable to those in power by shrewd use of a skill they need (organizing, writing, technology, foreign language, etc.).
  • The need always to be aware of how you look and act, that you’re never ever invisible, especially when representing your company in public.
  • The importance of learning what motivates people, what pleases or angers them, and how they act.
  • The importance of making and keeping friends; you can never have too many.
  • The importance of being kind to everyone you meet, no matter how low or poor – especially if they are low and poor, because they receive so little kindness and will always remember yours.
  • In general, the all-importance of paying more attention to others than to yourself.


First Half:

  1. Franklin D. Roosevelt: Overcoming Disability.
  2. Eleanor Roosevelt: Conquering Shyness and Self-Doubt.
  3. Lyndon Johnson: Seizing Opportunities and Using Mentors.
  4. Winston Churchill: Surviving Disaster and Defeat.
  5. Margaret Thatcher: Ignoring Facts.
  6. Mahatma Gandhi: One Person Making a Difference.
  7. Barack Obama: Taking Risks.
  8. T.E. Lawrence (“Lawrence of Arabia”): Leading from Behind.
  9. Katharine Graham: Responding to Sudden Leadership.
  10. Managing People: FDR, LBJ, George H.W. Bush.
  11. Summary and conclusions.

Second Half:

  1. Anyone can be important – sometimes suddenly.
  2. When this happens, you are no longer invisible.
  3. The 4 C’s, the 3 Always, and the 3 Nevers.
  4. How you look (clothes, grooming).
  5. Meeting people (conversation, introductions, names).
  6. Eating and drinking in public.
  7. Being photographed.
  8. On stage (sitting, listening, presenting an award or certificate).
  9. Speaking in public.
  10. Special circumstances (taking a tour, attending a funeral, unfamiliar religious services).
  11. Running a meeting.
  12. Dealing with the press.
  13. Appearing alert, even when you’re not.
  14. Overseas travel on business.
  15. Summary and conclusions.



Training can be tailored to the occasion: from a luncheon talk to a full morning presentation.

For costs and other information, please fill out the following form or contact chase@untermeyer.com.


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