Friday, August 07, 2009

Leadership Summit #6: David Gergen "Eyewitness to Power"

Leadership Summit (see details and links below) Speaker David Gergen, topic: "Eyewitness to Power" (the book he authored)
  • Every leader is a reader!
  • Don't confuse motion with progress
  • Book: Peter Drucker: The Effective Executive
  • Every 6 weeks, write down what you want to accomplish, then review it in 6 weeks: what did you accomplish, what did you miss?
  • It's like Jacob Wrestling
  • Hybels said "when something went right or wrong, I try to evaluate what was done to make it happen. Did I do anything to contribute?" This is the concept of "Lessons Learned" that we practice in the PM profession!
  • President Roosevelt during the tough time, went fishing a few weeks. That's where he came up with the idea of the Land Lease program to lend destroyers to England

Strengths of the presidents he advised?

  • Pres. Nixon was the best strategist: he could see how history would unfold and could see how to bend history for america's security interests (that's why he visited China to separate them from Russia)
  • Understanding the past helps you to look forward to future
  • Pres. Ford was most decent president, he was the only one you didn't have to watch your back in white house.
  • In today's society we've come to value people who are decent, maybe because they are so rare
  • Pres. Clinton was very bright, quick mind and tactical. He would work on a crossword puzzle while talking to you.
  • He admired Clinton's resilience, he was through a lot, but bounced back
  • Pres. Reagan - strong leader, best since Roosevelt. He was an optimist, he had strong convictions. Gifted communicator.
  • He was another of the 5 presidents that was a World War president, they had a sense of serving the country. They also had a sense of humor
  • Reagan said once "Sometimes the right hand doesn't know what the far right hand is doing"

Weaknesses of presidents?

  • Nixon (he was glad he read Machiavelli before working with Nixon). There was a dark side there.
  • Ford: People took advantage because he wasn't ready for what was coming
  • Reagan: his weekness was his detachment. He trusted his advisors too much and was detached from them. When his best advisors left, he had lots of issues.
  • Lou Gerstner (IBM) said "inspect" is as important as "respect"
  • Clinton: there was a parallel with Nixon: Nixon had fundamental character issues, so did Clinton

Great Leaders and the Great Flaw:

  • We're all flawed
  • Maturity is coming to grips with your flaws
  • Recognition that you have a dark side
  • Christianity brings the challenge to us: how do we come to grips with our flaws?
  • Keep your flaws under control so they don't hurt you and so they don't hurt others
  • Martin Luther King was one of the great leaders, although his private life was chaotic. He worked hard to bring his private life under control. He always told people he was not as good as he thought he was. He always struggled with it. Get up every day and try to be better.
  • If you want to go fast, go alone. But, if you want to go far, go with others

The Images of Leadership

  • The old "ordering" people (command and control) doesn't work. Now leadership is through trust and integrity
  • Images of leadership: Churchill's "V" for victory was a stong symbol
  • Ghandi wearing a loincloth to symbolize his simplicity
  • Mandela: informally clothed, yet one of the greatest leaders
  • Reagan on a horse: He used to say there's nothing so good for the inside of a man as the outside of a horse

Communication of a Leader

  • Listeners bring questions about the speaker: what do they stand about, do they care about people like me, do they have the capacity to make a difference
  • Lots of people are now communicating by blogs and twitter
  • The question is
  • Aristotle was the first to understand about public speaking: 3 elements: logos (the logic, compelling, appeal to logic of the listener's mind), ethos (believability of the message), pathos (the emotion, appeal to emotions)
  • There is research that if a speech goes on more than 30 to 35 minutes, people just aren't listening.
  • The emotional appeal is most important, if you want to inspire, there must be a call to action
  • After Cicero spoke people said "come, let us think" but after demosthenes spoke people said "Come, let us march"

Leadership tips:

  • It is important to be physically fit - Leadership is physical and demands a lot. if you go flabby in your body, you'll go flabby in your mind
  • Spend quiet time - people have long lives if they spend time with those they cherish, it's about your relationships
  • People who are in a relationship with someone who loves them and they love when they are 50 live longer
  • It's important to have a habit of reading every day

About Church:

  • Hybel asks "You're a speech writer and educated accomplished person, what do you hope will happen when you go into church?"
  • 1. I like to find it will be a place to find inner peace, not about you and us, but a sense of well being and peace with the world
  • 2. I like to learn something from Pastor and readings (he goes to church on the Harvard Campus) (he likes to read the Bible in church)
  • 3. He loves the generation in 20's and 30's now, they care deeply on issues, they are on a search for their spiritual well-being. Students realize that their spiritual foundation is a major part of their leadership: it helps you find your moral compass. (Bill Clinton had 360 view of world, but lacked Moral Compass: he's a Christian who's still working on it).
  • You're moral compass is so important too because it gives you an anchor: you need it because as you become successful you loose the view that rules belong to you
  • Faith family and friends are great anchors: there are so many things biger than you that depend on larger sources
  • We're blessed to have inherited this world. Each of us needs to bring a log to the fire

My take-aways from this session:

  • Be anchored in God
  • Read True North (book Author was in last year's Summit)
  • Be honest with self: my weaknesses and limitation
  • Keep working on being physically fit

I'm posting live from the leadership Summit ( satellite location in Ocean Grove NJ ( which was chartered 140 years ago by the state of NJ "for the perpetual worship of Jesus Christ."
I'm also tweeting live: you can follow (even if you don't have a twitter account) at:

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