The next time you wonder if you should say what you’re thinking, remember Molly Ivins, the newspaper columnist who made a career doing it.
Few men in politics have been admired by both sides of the aisle. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell is one such man. In his memoir, It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership, he offers up rules to live by:
The former president of South Africa who ended apartheid there, Nelson Mandela, has an African first name, Rolihlahla, which translates literally as “pulling down a tree branch.” What that actually means is “troublemaker.” Mandela’s life means many more things: warrior, activist and statesman. Here are his rules of leadership.
Think the economy is bad now? Here’s how things stood in 1933: The jobless rate in America hit 25%. Business investment choked. Banks defaulted. Totalitarianism swept the globe. FDR—according to his critics—appeared vain, insincere, a liar and, generally, not a nice guy. So, how did he restore faith in the U.S. economy?
Former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet hit a few bumps early in her term, but went on to reach Chile’s highest-ever approval rating. Even while she was president, she was being recruited to lead what would become a new initiative by the United Nations. U.N. Women would be the first high-profile international agency dedicated to gender.
Understanding the distinction between power and leadership—how leaders use power to accomplish things—is the work of historian Robert Caro. In his books on President Lyndon Johnson, Caro shows that power doesn’t corrupt so much as it reveals: When you amass enough power, it reveals what you’ve really wanted all along.
Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese dissident kept under house arrest for 15 years, shows these traits of a leader: She has a vision, is fearless and keeps her enemies close.
John Street learned something about leadership one day in 1981, when he was a member of the Philadelphia City Council. When the council president barred his bill aimed at helping the city’s financially troubled school district, Street seized the stenotype machine, setting off a melee that made national news. He said he learned a lesson that day about diplomacy:
Richard Nixon suffered the stigma of being the only U.S. president forced to resign, and his leadership suffered greatly under the weight of Watergate. But the disgraced president did fire off one flare of good leadership as his administration crashed. Ironically, it ensured the end of his presidency.
On April 4, 1968, presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy stepped to the microphone in a poor neighborhood in Indianapolis and stunned the crowd with the news that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. had been shot and killed. The sheriff had tried to persuade Kennedy to cancel his appearance, saying it was too dangerous to address an African-American crowd. Kennedy refused.