Book Review: Leadership in Turbulent Times

This article discusses three advantages of reading Leadership in Turbulent Times by Doris Kearns-Goodwin. In addition to presenting a thorough analysis of the leadership of four presidents, she presents a comprehensive review of their backgrounds. In any event, the book offers excellent lessons on leadership, human relations and crisis management.

3 Advantages

  • Get the inside scoop

The leaders featured in this book are as different as night and day. I enjoyed finding out what made them tick. President Johnson, for instance earned the name freeze out because he could easily withdraw love and affection. What’s more, he refused to take no for an answer.

By contrast, nothing could distract Abraham Lincoln once he fixed his mind on any subject. Moreover, he spoke from the heart and treated everyone the same.

In comparison, Theodore Roosevelt refused to lose his temper. What’s more, he refrained from taking criticism personally.

On the other hand, Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) flung things against the wall to see if they would stick. If they did not, he admitted his mistake and tried something else.

Simply put, the writer helps you to understand the whole person. Someone said, “We are the sum of our life’s experiences.” This rings true for our leaders too.

  • Unearth their strategies for confronting adversity

Kearns highlights their leadership during four crises: Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation, Theodore Roosevelt and the coal strike, FDR and the Depression, and Lyndon Johnson and the Civil Rights Act. Accordingly, Lincoln launched his presidency with a team of independent, determined men. They were better educated and more acclaimed. Still, to tackle the slavery issue, he inspired his cabinet to identify with something larger than themselves.

All in all, Roosevelt moved methodically. He calculated the risks of getting involved in the strike, gathered the facts, used history to anchor his thinking, assembled a crisis management team, and shaped the account.

Like Lincoln, FDR stressed the theme of a common purpose. He restored confidence by balancing reality and a positive outlook. Then, he told people what they could expect and what was expected of them.

In the same way, Johnson devised a compelling picture of the future. He simplified the agenda to get the Civil Rights Act passed, determined the most effective way to proceed, used his ability to negotiate and make deals, and stood by commitments.

  • Detect four types of leadership

Before long you identify the differences between transformational, transactional, turnaround and visionary leadership. While each is significant, the subjects seemingly knew what was needed for the time and circumstances.