Timeless leadership lessons from Mister Rogers

“Life is deep and simple, and what our society gives us is shallow and complicated.” - Fred Rogers

It’s been 16 years since the passing of the beloved Fred Rogers, the host of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” His life was an inspiration to millions and the life lessons and values he passed on will not be forgotten by those of us who were privileged enough to watch him growing up.

His communication style was simple, straight forward, and sound. He told it like it was and inspired us to a higher standard.

There are many notable Fred Rogers’ pearls of wisdom worth sharing, but the following are some of my favorites, along with leadership applications.


To my previous point - his communication style was simple, straight forward, and sound. Being kind is a timeless leadership principle. What makes you a leader worth knowing, following, or emulating has nothing to do with your title, position, or who you know. It all comes down to this one thing- are you kind? How you treat others says all that’s needed about what kind of leader you are. Be kind!


Just as life is not free from pain, neither is leadership. It has its painful moments. But the secret to your growth and development as a leader is not how to make all of your problems go away, as pleasing as that might sound. It’s about learning how to wrestle. It’s about what you learn in the struggle that makes you a better person and leader. Don’t shy away from your problems, learn from them.


As a leader, every encounter you have with the people you meet is an opportunity to add value to them. Think about the everyday encounters you have with others and ask yourself this simple question, “Did I add value today?” Remember, with every encounter you are leaving a part of yourself. Make it count.


This is a great leadership principle. In today’s world, it’s so easy to be cynical and skeptical as we see how things have deteriorated on so many fronts. Regardless of how bad things may seem, don’t give up on the goodness of the human spirit. It’s still alive. Look for the helpers!


This is one of the hardest leadership principles to learn. It’s during the dark times that we tend to drift mentally, emotionally, and spiritually and begin to doubt ourselves. And we wonder, “Is it time to throw in the towel and quit?” Your winning streak is on the other side of the slump you may currently find yourself in. Don’t give up.


As it is with the principle of being kind, so too is the principle of making goodness attractive. You will never be less of a leader because you are kind or because you’ve made goodness attractive. If anything, you will make it more appealing. How are you making goodness attractive?


This is a timeless leadership principle that can save aspiring leaders much grief and frustration. You can attempt to lead by the decree that’s attached to your title or you can lead from the heart and through relationships. The one path is hard and unfulfilling. The other is transformative and rewarding. Make it your practice to establish the kind of atmosphere that fosters growth and builds your culture.

Times have changed since the days of “Mister Rogers Neighborhood.” But the lessons in values and in leadership are as applicable as ever.

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