Editor-at-large at U.S. News & World Report and political analyst for CNN and PBS, David Gergen has served as a White House adviser to four presidents; Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Clinton. He is also a professor at Harvard’s School of Public Leadership. An active participant in American national life for 30 years, Gergen has a lifetime of experience in observing and participating in high-capacity leadership, which he’s distilled into seven vital elements needed for future leaders. The author of Eyewitness to Power, he firmly believes that by identifying the traits of other leaders (and learning from their mistakes), we can increase our own effectiveness and leadership potential.
- “A leader's role is to raise people's aspirations for what they can become and to release their energies so they will try to get there.” David Gergen
- A teacher of leadership can't make you a leader. They can point you in the/a direction.
- There's a difference between learning and doing.
- You have to learn to get better ... reflective practice = you learn in the doing (in the arena) and the reading [of books by other leaders].
- "Not every reader is a leader, but every leader is a reader." Harry S. Truman
- Reflection - what worked, what didn't, what will we do differently.
- "There's confusion between motion and progress." Peter Drucker
- Look at life/TO DO list in six (6) week increments. Review at the end of the six weeks.
Admirable qualities of former presidents:
- Nixon: Best strategist .. able to see the way history could unfold.
- Ford: A decent man.
- Clinton: Resilient - he'd always get back up.
- Reagan: Best leader since President Roosevelt. A principled man; a contagious optimist (not pollyannaish). A sense of common sacrifice and a sense of humor.
"Inspect is as important as respect."
Weaknesses of each:
- Nixon: Demons he couldn't control [author of his own tragedy].
- Ford: Naive
- Reagan: Detachment [entrusted too far]. Let others have control of the wheel(s).
- Clinton: Cracks in his character. No moral compass.
"Learn to keep your flaws in check so as not to hurt others." ... There needs to be alignment between private behavior and public life. ... Martin Luther King was a great moral leader. He never claimed to be a saint.
"Get up every day and try to be better." Nelson Mandela
- We should be more forgiving and less invasive.
- Leadership doesn't have to be lonely. Lone leadership is over. The best leaders have a team of leaders. Learn how to partner, collaborate, build things together.
- If you want to go fast, go alone. But, if you want to go far, go with others.
- Leadership is persuasion.
- Who the speaker "is" speaks as loudly as what they say. Trust? Authentic? Expert? Clear? Simple?
- A speech should be 15-20 minutes - max!
Personal habits of leaders matter a lot. Self discipline:
- Control over your life
- Physically fit - endurance
- Daily reflection
- Daily time with people you cherish. Loving relationships are very important.
"Be the change you want to see in the world." Gandhi
If we only picked three of these gems to incorporate into our daily lives, can you imagine the magnitude of change?
Here's to learning and growing. J