Some people might be tempted to see Fred Rogers (played in a new film by Tom Hanks) exclusively as a kid’s show host. His humble demeanor and soft-spoken ways do not fit our typical image of a charismatic leader. On closer look, however, it is evident that Mister Rogers was a highly effective leader and innovator who took strong stands and transformed the lives of those he touched, children and adults alike. His quiet approach to influencing people and making a difference has much to teach current business leaders.
Tom Junod is a well-known journalist who initially made the mistake of dismissing Rogers as a “hokey kid-show guy.” His unlikely friendship with Rogers is the basis of the new movie. Assigned by Esquire in 1998 to write a profile of Rogers, Junod had a reputation for being cynical and snarky. Much to his surprise, Junod found his mind and heart opened by the time he spent with the ordained minister turned TV personality.