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The Essentials of Leadership In our interviews, we heard many other stories of crucible experiences. Take Jack Coleman, 78-year-old former president of Haverford College in Pennsylvania. He told us of one day, during the Vietnam War, when he heard that a group of students was planning to pull down the American flag and burn it—and that former members of the school’s football team were going to make sure the students didn’t succeed. Seemingly out of nowhere, Coleman had the idea to preempt […]
Geeks and Geezers We didn’t set out to learn about crucibles. Our research for this article and for our new book, Geeks and Geezers, was actually designed to uncover the ways that era influences a leader’s motivation and aspirations. We interviewed 43 of today’s top leaders in business and the public sector, limiting our subjects to people born in or before 1925, or in or after 1970. To our delight, we learned a lot about how age and era affect leadership style. Our […]
Learning From Difference A crucible is, by definition, a transformative experience through which an individual comes to a new or an altered sense of identity. It is perhaps not surprising then that one of the most common types of crucibles we documented involves the experience of prejudice. Being a victim of prejudice is particularly traumatic because it forces an individual to confront a distorted picture of him- or herself, and it often unleashes profound feelings of anger, bewilderment, and even withdrawal. For […]
What makes a leader As lifelong students of leadership, we are fascinated with the notion of what makes a leader. Why is it that certain people seem to naturally inspire confidence, loyalty, and hard work, while others (who may have just as much vision and smarts) stumble, again and again? It’s a timeless question, and there’s no simple answer. But we have come to believe it has something to do with the different ways that people deal with adversity. Indeed, our recent […]
“I think I blew it with the new vice president,” moaned my coaching client. “I was drowning in paperwork when she walked through our department introducing herself. I was so distracted I could hardly get my own name out of my mouth. On top of that, I was wearing jeans while the VP and just about everyone else in my department was wearing a suit that day. I can only imagine the awful first impression I made.” Did you know it takes only three […]