*This is part of our “Leaders We Love” series. Learn more about it.
I’ve always felt one person can make a difference in this world.
Whether as an elementary school student, a college co-ed, a young working professional and now as a leader at The Container Store, I have always looked up to confident leaders. Those leaders with a humble confidence in themselves, leading with an awareness and an understanding of the complex world they live in, those who made decisions in a straightforward and honest manner, those who know that kindness indeed matters, and that we can make a difference in other’s lives, and in the world we live in.
As I grew up, I became aware of this very power in Eleanor Roosevelt’s actions and words. I might not have known at the time that she was a leadership role model for me, but I knew her to be a woman who had confidence in herself, a strong woman with excellence in judgment and action – a leader with a strong moral code – a woman who knew that change could come from one act, and one person.
It was she who said, “Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.”
And as I gained maturity in my leadership, and have taken on my own leadership roles, I began to shape my own leadership and confidence, I looked to Eleanor Roosevelt as a role model and a partner – she was a sort of leadership litmus test for me. I imagined how she would have felt or acted as a leader in our vibrant complex world. Here at The Container Store, where the examples of excellence and confidence in leadership are everywhere one turns, I feel Eleanor all around me – she would have liked it here in our world of employee-first culture, seeing the power of one amazing leader at a time, making a difference in our business and in people’s lives.
And it’s funny that I now live very close to where she raised her family, in New York’s Hudson Valley, and maybe that was intentional. I have the ability to walk the very grounds she walked and I imagine her sorting out a dilemma, debating a point with Winston Churchill (the two of them grew quite close), or simply just trying to gain perspective on a difficult situation. I gain inspiration from her still, as I search for excellence in my own actions and judgment here in my role at The Container Store. Eleanor Roosevelt has impacted the way I begin each day as a leader, as a woman, and ultimately as a human being with the power to make a lasting impact in people’s lives.
If you’re interested in learning more about Eleanor’s inspirational leadership journey and style to help guide your own leadership path, please visit the Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic site page or the PBS website.