David Gergen at the Leadership Summit

Posted on August 12, 2009



Here is part V of my notes from this year’s Leadership Summit in Chicago. 

Commentator, editor, teacher, public servant, best-selling author and adviser to presidents for 30 years, David Gergen has been an active participant in American national life. He served as director of communications for President Reagan and held positions in the administrations of Presidents Nixon and Ford. In 1993, he put his country before politics when he agreed to first serve as counselor to President Clinton on both foreign policy and domestic affairs, then as special international adviser to the president and to Secretary of State Warren Christopher.

Gergen was a very humble man and a passionate servant leader. It was clear there was a mutual respect between him and Bill Hybels (the host). Here are notes from the interview:

Leadership is a journey, we all take our path, but there are people to help you on your journey.

No one can teach you to be Matisse or Picasso, but you can help them discover their potential.

Learn to be a REFLECTIVE PRACTITIONER, a combination of doing and reading to growing.

For leaders, don’t confuse motion with progress.

When you are on the dance floor dancing, occasionally it’s good to go up into the balcony and take a look.

Someone that can look farther back, allows you to look farther ahead.

The world loves decent leaders because there are so few of them, it works whether in church, business, or politics.

Like Reagen, a leader should be a person of principle with a contagious optimism.

Sometimes the right hand doesn’t know what the ‘far right’ is doing! (in politics or in power).

Inspect’ is sometimes more important than respect. You have to look inward to your organization. and not be detached.

We all have great flaws and we have to recognize them. It’s OK, but have an authentic, integrated personality.

Martin Luthor King was more courageous & bold in his public life because of the chaos of his private. He changed the world b/c of it. We have to accept leaders flaws.

If you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far go together.

Leadership is working together for an inspired goal. It’s about trust, communication, and symbolism.

Communication takes place in a context never a vacuum. Who the speaker IS speaks louder than WHAT they say.

A great speech should only be 15-20 minutes. After that people fight boredom, sleep, & SEXUAL FANTASIES!

Leadership is a very physically demanding. Going flabby, means your mind will go flabby too.

Leaders need an anchor of religion in life b/c it creates a moral compass. It keeps you humble.


Posted in: Creative Leaders