Tim Stanley

Powerful Traits of Successful Leaders

Leadership: Lessons from the Presidents for Turbulent Times


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In the American republican tradition, the president is supposed to be an exemplary citizen. Not necessarily perfect: Doris Kearns Goodwin, in her study of four significant presidents, includes Lyndon B Johnson, a dangerous egotist who embroiled his country in the Vietnam War and broke the bank in the process. But even LBJ was an example of self-actualisation, a man who got to the top through ability and will. He won a place in Congress by rising earlier, travelling further and meeting more voters than anyone else. When he first came to Washington, DC, he moved into a hotel packed with congressional staff, taking ‘four separate showers in the shared bathroom his first night to engage as many people as possible; the next morning he brushed his teeth every ten minutes’. He asked Lady Bird to marry him on their second date. ‘I am ambitious, proud, energetic and madly in love with you,’ he said. ‘We either get married now or we never will.’ So they did. And why, pray, can’t I meet someone like that?

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