Doris Kearns Goodwin on What it Means to Lead

Doris Kearns Goodwin, the presidential historian, is releasing a new book entitled Leadership: In Turbulent Times. Looking at the leadership strategies of Lincoln, Teddy and Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Johnson, Goodwin identifies key strategies for leaders through difficult periods of transition.

The author recently spoke to Fast Company about some of the key themes the book identifies:

On the importance of telling a good story: "[Take] Abraham Lincoln: While we celebrate his beautiful language, his speeches really worked because they were filled with stories and illustration. He believed people remembered anecdotes better than facts and figures. When he was young, he would listen as his father and the people who would come by his little log cabin told stories. He’d go to bed at night and try to translate those stories into [his] words, so he could then go out on the field the next day, stand on a tree stump—he’s like eight, nine years old—and entertain his friends."

On the importance of self-renewal: "These [presidents] had incredible challenges in front of them, and they all were able to find time to replenish their energy and creativity. When you look at the statistics on people today, it’s astonishing: Half of Americans aren’t using their vacation time; people fail to disconnect even when they are on vacation. And here you have Abraham Lincoln, in the middle of the Civil War, going to the theater 100 times. He said when he was in the theater, his mind could go back to Shakespeare and the War of the Roses, and he could forget for a few precious hours about the [Civil] War. FDR had a cocktail party every night where the rule was, you can’t talk about the war."

Learn more and read the full interview here.

Published: August 15, 2018