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Leader stories and leadership excellence

One of my favourite gifts this Christmas was a book called Leadership, Lessons from the Presidents for Turbulent Times by Pulitzer Prize winner Doris Kearns Goodwin that is chock full of fascinating stories about the lives, actions and leadership acumen of 4 truly inspiring presidents (Lincoln, Theodore and  Franklin Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson) –  each of whom led America through times of huge crises.

The stories in this must read book for leaders deliver myriad insights into how each of the Presidents – despite their huge differences in means, education and societal positions – shared many similar traits that helped them to masterfully guide and inspire the United States through times of trouble.

And apart from encouraging you to get a copy of the book for yourself, here are my 5 top line take-aways about the ‘common characteristics’ these men shared that helped them to inspire and influence others.

  1. Outstanding storytelling skills – which was far and away the number 1 reason they excelled in winning attention, inspiring audiences at a human level and earning broad trust (even winning respect and support from ardent adversaries)
  2. Resilience – borne of overcoming adversity
  3. Humility – tied into including a willingness to listen and to be self-reflective
  4. Empathy – the ability and pre-disposition to step into other people’s shoes
  5. Ambitious for others – rooted in a selfless attitude to leadership

If ever you wanted proof positive of timeless lessons you can glean from stories of how great leaders tackled monumental challenges in the past, here’s a perfect example. A super read that I can’t recommend highly enough.