David Gergen: Hearts Touched With Fire
David Gergen has served as a White House adviser to four US presidents of both political parties: Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton. He then served as the editor of US News & World Report. For the past two decades, he has served as a professor of public service and founding director of the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School.
David is also a senior political analyst for CNN, where he is a respected voice in national and international affairs. He is the author of Hearts Touched with Fire: How Great Leaders Are Made*.
In this conversation, David and I discuss his years working in the White House for four different presidents. We explore what worked for David to be able to support a powerful person in being the best version of themselves. Plus, we discuss how to speak truth to power, the strategy of playing to strengths, and the critical importance of staying aligned with the big picture.
- Speaking up means you ensure that your manager has considered alternate perspectives.
- Be aware of your own shortcomings so you do not bias your own advice.
- You made need to help a manager overcome their own challenges. Help them play to their strengths.
- Beware of managing up with arrogance. Instead, create zones and pathways that can help a manager make tough calls.
- Making a suggestion in a short note can be one way to open up a tough conversation.
- Keep the bigger, nobler motive in mind at all times. Advocate for that larger vision.
- Hearts Touched with Fire: How Great Leaders Are Made* by David Gergen
- The Bin Laden Raid: Inside the Situation Room Photo
Download my interview notes in PDF format (free membership required).
- How to Start Managing Up, with Tom Henschel (episode 433)
- Leadership in the Midst of Chaos, with Jim Mattis (episode 440)
- How to be Diplomatic, with Susan Rice (episode 456)
- Your Leadership Motive, with Patrick Lencioni (episode 505)
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