Leadership

In Turbulent Times
by Doris Kearns Goodwin | 496 pages

Doris Kearns Goodwin has been studying presidential history and leadership for five decades since she first became a professor at Harvard. She has won a Pulitzer Prize and her bestseller Team of Rivals was the basis for Steven Spielberg’s Academy Award–winning film Lincoln. In this book, she walks us through four case studies in leadership: Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Lyndon B. Johnson. If you enjoy studying leadership like I do, I think you’ll love this book as much as I did. Big Ideas we explore include the one quality all of our very different leaders possessed (hint: FIERCE AMBITION), Lincoln's commitment to growth ("I must die or be better"), the importance of a growth mindset, acquiring virtue Teddy Roosevelt style and the importance of finding ways to relieve stress.


“Four case studies will reveal these vastly different men in action during defining events of their times and presidencies. These four extended examples show how their leadership fit the historical moment as a key fits a lock. No key is exactly the same; each has a different line of ridges and notches along its blade. While there is neither a master key to leadership nor a common lock of historical circumstance, we can detect a certain family resemblance of leadership traits as we trace the alignment of leadership capacity within its historical context. …

It is my hope that these stories of leadership in times of fracture and fear will prove instructive and reassuring. These men set a standard and a bar for all of us. Just as they learned from one another, so we can learn from them. And from them gain a better perspective on the discord of our times. For leadership does not exist in a void. Leadership is a two-way street. ‘I have only been an instrument,’ Lincoln insisted, with both accuracy and modesty, ‘the antislavery people of the country and the army have done it all.’ The progressive movement helped pave the way for Theodore Roosevelt’s ‘Square Deal,’ much as the civil rights movement provided the fuel to ignite the righteous and pragmatic activism that enabled the Great Society. And no one communicated with people and heard voices more clearly than Franklin Roosevelt. He absorbed their stories, listened carefully, and for a generation held a nonstop conversation with the people.

‘With public sentiment, nothing can fail,’ Abraham Lincoln said, ‘without it nothing can succeed.’ Such a leader is inseparably linked to the people. Such leadership is a mirror in which the people see their collective reflection.”

~ Doris Kearns Goodwin from Leadership

I received this book as a gift from Cal Newport. It’s phenomenal.

Doris Kearns Goodwin has been studying presidential history and leadership for five decades when she first became a professor at Harvard. She won the Pulitzer Prize for No Ordinary Time: Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II. Her bestseller Team of Rivals was the basis for Steven Spielberg’s Academy Award–winning film Lincoln.

In this book, she walks us through four case studies in leadership: Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Lyndon B. Johnson.

The book has three parts:

  • Part I – Ambition and the Recognition of Leadership (in which we meet our young leaders, and witness their FIERCE ambition as they discover their leadership abilities);
  • Part II – Adversity and Growth (in which we meet our young leaders in crisis and navigating crucible moments to forge their character and strength);
  • Part III – The Leader and the Times: How They Led (in which we see their leadership in turbulent times and learn the lessons we can apply to our lives today).

If you enjoy studying leadership like I do, I think you’ll love this book as much as I did. Get a copy of the book here and cruise on over here to check out Leadership 101 and our collection of Notes on other great leadership books.

Of course, it’s packed with (biographically inspired) Big Ideas and I’m excited to share some of my favorites so let’s jump straight in!

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About the author

Authors

Doris Kearns Goodwin

A world-renowned presidential historian, public speaker and Pulitzer Prize-winning, New York Times #1 best-selling author.