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The Secrets of America’s Great Presidents

Historian and Pulitzer Prize winning author Doris Kearns Goodwin wrote an article for the September 14, 2008 for PARADE magazine titled The Secrets of America’s Great Presidents in which she identifies the following 10 attributes that distinguish great Presidents.

  1. The courage to stay strong
  2. Self-confidence
  3. An ability to learn from errors
  4. A willingness to change
  5. Emotional intelligence
  6. Self-control
  7. A popular touch
  8. A moral compass
  9. A capacity to relax
  10. A gift for inspiring others

Kearns-Goodwin’s list was inspired by Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt, two subjects she has written about extensively; make sure you read the entire article to get her reasoning. The author suggests that Americans should consider the leadership strengths of our most successful Presidents when deciding how to cast their ballots in November. Here’s how she closes the article:

I hope that as this campaign reaches its end, we can all move beyond the superficial “issues” that now play too large a role in Presidential politics. Let us look closely at the leadership styles of John McCain and Barack Obama and analyze their strengths and weaknesses in relation to our greatest leaders. It will take imagination to shift our present mode of thinking. Old habits die hard. But let us begin.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Grufnik

About the author

Peter A. Mello, Founder/Editor Founder of Weekly Leader and Sea-Fever Consulting, LLC, a leadership development and strategic communications consultancy. Previously, CEO of an international nonprofit organization and COO of a national insurance/risk management services firm. Peter has been leading people and managing organizations for over 30 years, writes a leadership column for MarineNews magazine and blogs about maritime culture at Sea-Fever. Follow him on Twitter.

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