Monday, September 15, 2008

The 10 attributes of great presidents

Ok, so Parade Magazine isn't exactly the Wall Street Journal, but I read it every Sunday as it usually has something in it that's worthwhile.

Yesterday, it had a story titled "The Secrets of the Great Presidents" -- a list of 10 traits or skills that have helped our best leaders possess. The author uses examples from both Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt [pictured here] as her "guides."

Here's a recap:

1. The courage to stay strong: "A President needs the ability to withstand adversity and motivate himself in the face of frustration."

2. Self-confidence: "Good leadership requires you to surround yourself with people of diverse perspectives who can disagree with you without fear of retaliation."

3. An ability to learn from errors: "To lead successfully, you must be willing to acknowledge and learn from your mistakes."

4. A willingness to change: "Conditions change, and Presidents must respond."

5. Emotional intelligence: "A President must encourage his closest advisers to give their best and remain loyal."

6. Self-control: "Great leaders manage their emotions and remain calm in the midst of trouble. On the Sunday that the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Eleanor Roosevelt was struck by her husband's 'deadly calm.' While aides and Cabinet officers ran in and out in excitement, panic, and irritation, FDR remained at his desk, absorbing the news, deciding what to do next."

7. A popular touch: "The best Presidents have an intuitive awareness of public sentiment, a sense of when to wait and when to lead. FDR was said to possess an uncanny awareness of the hopes and fears of his countrymen and to know precisely when to move forward, when to hold back, and when to deliver one of his fireside chats."

8. A moral compass: "Only strong leaders have the courage and integrity to follow their convictions when the risk of losing popular support is great.

9. A capacity to relax: "FDR held a White House cocktail hour every evening. Its cardinal rule: Nothing was to be said of politics or war. Guests were to gossip, tell funny stories, and reminisce so that everyone could enjoy a few precious hours away from the pressures of the day."

10. A gift for inspiring others: "One of the key qualities of a great President is his ability to communicate national goals to the people and to educate and shape public opinion. Both Lincoln and FDR conveyed their convictions with stories and metaphors, as well as a profound sense of history and a love of poetry and drama."