What We Are Reading
October 2021

Leadership: In Turbulent Times by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Acclaimed presidential biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin turns the stories of four American Presidents (Lincoln, Roosevelt, Roosevelt and Johnson) into a skillful primer for leaders in times of crisis. She describes the “crucible events” for each man (debilitating depression, death of wife and mother, polio, etc.) and how each emerged with an enlarged capacity to lead the country through its most tumultuous chapters. “If there is not the war,” Theodore Roosevelt mused, “you don’t get the great general.” Included in her Presidential competency model: self-discipline, self-reflection, a profound sense of empathy, a love for reading, a knack for storytelling, the willingness to adapt and change course, clear and direct communication, shielding colleagues from blame, and the greatest virtue of all – humility. Goodwin’s instructive stories are of individuals who strongly exhibit not just a desire to lead but even more fundamental, a desire to serve.

HIGHLIGHT(S): In FDR’s “fireside chats”, he was not merely “talking directly to the people of the nation”, but rather, “to each person in the nation.” His voice soothed a distressed America by projecting empathy, confidence, and warmth that made one believe and trust in his words.

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