Lessons for Leaders in the Life of Bob Dole

He was a WW II hero, United States Senator, nominee for President and Vice President, Majority Leader in the United States Senate, author, attorney, husband, and father.   Americans now say goodbye and express our gratitude for Bob Dole’s lifetime of public service on the battlefields of WW II to the United States Senate.

What timeless principles can we learn from his seven decades of dedication to serving America?

Perseverance – One of his mother’s favorite phrases was “can’t never could do nothing.”  He was grievously wounded in battle in WW II.  He was not expected to survive.  His recovery would take three years.  A strong athlete, he would lose use of his right arm.  He decided this would never stop him from attaining his dreams.  He would rely on tapes of class lectures to excel in law school unable to write with his right hand.  Politics is a business of shaking hands, so he learned to greet others with his left hand.

It’s OK to Ask for Help – His small hometown in rural Kansas would raise the money to pay for his hospital bills.  He never forgot their love and generosity.  He kept one of the empty cigar boxes in his office his entire life which was used to received donations from his neighbors.

Teamwork – As a Senator and Majority Leader, he would ensure the passage of important legislation time and time again by working with everyone willing to work with him.  He could be faithful to his values but find ways to work with others.  When the work was accomplished, he focused the spotlight on others

Sacrifice – He almost lost his life serving his country.  He faced close elections due to taking unpopular stands.  Leaders take risks.  Leaders will experience setbacks and defeats.  Leaders learn and move forward.

Service Never Ends – After leaving office, he never stopped serving.  He continued to raise and provide millions to aid disabled Americans through the Dole Foundation.  Having survived prostate cancer, he served as an advocate to encourage Americans to be tested and to support treatment research.  He helped raise the $100 million to create the National World War II Memorial now in Washington DC. for future generations to learn from and experience.

Stay Humble and Dream Big – He never forgot his roots in small town rural Kansas and how many people helped him in life.  He also knew that in America, he could achieve anything he dreamed he could, and he did.

The life and public service career of Bob Dole is a positive and inspiring example for us all.


Dr. Joe Saviak is a leadership and management consultant, author, college professor, and researcher.


Citation: All of these impressive details of his life and career came from this excellent and extensive article published Sunday in The Kansas City Star:  https://www.kansascity.com/news/politics-government/article256353882.html (Thompson, J., Kraske, S., Lowry, B. and Shorman, J., 2021).

Featured Image: U.S. Congress