Pulitzer prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin has researched American presidents for 50 years, writing extensively about the lives of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
On “CBS This Morning” Monday, she was asked what are the characteristics of an effective leader. “I think there are a bunch,” she said. “Humility is one. You acknowledge your errors. You learn from your mistakes. Empathy is so important, to be able to see other people’s points of view. Resilience to get through adversity. The ability to create a team where people can argue with you, where you can share credit and you can shoulder blame. And I think most importantly is the ambition for self becomes an ambition for something larger in the transformative leaders.”
“Humility, acknowledging errors – when you mention that in the context of past presidents, you think of the current president who famously does not say ‘I’m sorry,’ does not acknowledge errors, is not known for his humility,” said co-host Tony Dokoupil. “Is he casting a new mold of presidential leadership?”
“I don’t know. It seems to me the most important thing with all those qualities is the ability to grow,” said Goodwin. “If you have humility and empathy, you can learn, you can learn in office. You’re not going to change fundamentally once you become president, but you’re hoping that leaders grow. And it’s hard to grow if you can’t acknowledge errors, ’cause then you’re never wrong, so what are you going to learn from?”