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What Makes A Great Leader?

“Rank does not confer privilege or give power. It imposes responsibility.” ― Peter F. Drucker

As the destruction from Hurricane Sandy shows, a President faces crises and complex issues almost every day. With less than a week before we elect our next leader, take a look at the critical thinking skills and experiences that guide a Commander in Chief, and shape our country:


Profiles in Leadership: Historians on the Elusive Quality of Greatness
edited by Walter Issacson

Thirteen essays illuminate the qualities that make for effective leadership – from the battlefield and the White House to the front lines of the struggle for civil rights – and helps us think in new ways about key moments in American history.



24 – Season 3
DVD [2004]

Long before Barack Obama sought a second term, David Palmer ran for reelection during a bio-terrorism attack. Unsurprisingly, things got ugly.




John F. Kennedy on Leadership: The Lessons and Legacy of a President
by John A. Barnes

Analyzes what made Kennedy, both before and during his Presidency, a unique and dominant force who would serve as the standard by which future leaders would be judged



Jack 1939: A Novel
by Francine Matthews

Tapped by President Franklin Roosevelt to travel to Europe and learn what the Nazis are actually planning, 22-year-old John F. Kennedy, a sickly and unpromising second son of Roosevelt’s Ambassador to Britain, becomes embroiled in the President’s high-stakes effort to stop the flow of German money that is influencing the 1940 U.S. election.



Running Alone: Presidential Leadership–From JFK to Bush II: Why It Has Failed and How We Can Fix It
by James MacGregor Burns

Burns argues that John F. Kennedy turned his back on the Democratic Party by relying on his personal charisma and family wealth to win office, and once elected governed much as he had run: alone. In doing so, Kennedy fundamentally reshaped the role of President, and each of his successors has built on this model. Democratic presidents – Johnson, Carter, and Clinton – did tremendous damage to the Democratic Party by abandoning its core principles, while Republican presidents have managed to lead more effectively in isolation, but have imperiled the nation in the process.


Directive 51
by John Barnes

What kind of leadership would be necessary in an end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it scenario? In this novel set during  the technological breakdown of human society, Barnes explores leadership and the repercussions of National Security Presidential Directive 51, which ensures Continuity of Government in the case of a Catastrophic Emergency.



American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House
by John Meacham

Chronicles the life and career of a self-made man who went on to become a military hero and seventh president of the United States. Critically analyzes Jackson’s seminal role during a turbulent era in history, the political crises and personal upheaval that surrounded him, and his legacy for the modern presidency.



Inventing the Job of President: Leadership Style from George Washington to Andrew Jackson
by Fred I. Greenstein

From the presidential difference in the early republic and the foundational presidency of George Washington, through the political competence of James Monroe and the political incompetence of John Quincy Adams, and on to the force of nature that was Andrew Jackson.


The Leadership Genius of George W. Bush: 10 Commonsense Lessons from the Commander in Chief
by Carolyn B. Thompson and James W. Ware

Thompson and Ware argue that the President who ‘loves to be underestimated’ had a highly effective approach to leadership that is humane, direct, and at times, truly transformational. Many in business today could benefit from reading this book.



Presidential Leadership: 15 Decisions that Changed the Nation
by Nick Ragone; foreword by Ali Velshi

Washington puts down the Whiskey Rebellion — Jefferson purchases the Louisiana Territory — Andrew Jackson rejects nullification — Lincoln signs the Emancipation Proclamation — Teddy Roosevelt builds the Panama Canal — Woodrow Wilson and the League of Nations — Franklin Roosevelt and the lend-lease program — Truman drops the bomb — Truman fires MacArthur — Eisenhower, Kennedy, and the race to the moon — Lyndon Johnson and civil rights — Richard Nixon visits China — Ford pardons Nixon — Ronald Reagan and the evil empire speech — Barack Obama takes on healthcare reform.



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