The Powerful Idea of Leadership Transference

Leadership transference -- Franklin D. Roosevelt had it in spades.

Leadership can mean different things at different times to different people. But a few things are non-negotiable. And while sitting on an airplane the other day, I was reading a short essay about Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the concept of “transference” came up. The point of the essay was that during his presidency, Roosevelt was not a healthy nor a strong man. He was in a wheelchair (although most Americans did not know this) and he had a myriad of health problems. However, the country he was leading was in dire trouble economically, and eventually became embroiled in a global military conflict. And the simple fact is that the country needed to draw strength from somewhere, and someone. And that person was their president. The country needed to see strength and confidence from their leader and they drew on that strength.

Eventually, and over the course of his presidency, the country began to grow stronger as he grew physically weaker, and the idea is that he was transferring his strength to the country he was leading. Powerful idea.

The point here for you is that every leader needs to be very cognizant of the behaviors, characteristics, things that his or her organization needs from the leader. And then, every good leader will do everything they can to profile, exhibit and embody those things for the organization. The members of the organization will follow the lead of the leader. If you want your organization and the people in it to embody a certain trait, make sure you yourself embody it.  If you want the people in your organization to treat customers in a certain way, make sure you treat others in the same way. And if you want your organization to be strong and confident, make sure that you convey strength and confidence… even if you are not feeling strong or confident internally.

At The Latimer Group, our individual Coaching services are highly customized and designed to help you achieve your specific goals. Typical engagements focus on developing skill sets in Leadership Communications, Public Speaking, and Executive-Level Business Presentations. To learn more, e-mail us at


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Dean Brenner

A book about change

The Latimer Group’s CEO Dean Brenner is a noted keynote speaker and author on the subject of persuasive communication. He has written three books, including Persuaded, in which he details how communication can transform organizations into highly effective, creative, transparent environments that succeed at every level.