So what exactly is this thing we call leadership?
Why is it that some people challenge us and motivate us to rise to our best abilities, while others seem to drain our energy and spirit?
What is that particular quality people have that causes others around them to fully engage and feel connected?
All my life I have been curious about what leadership is all about and how it works, and that curiosity has led me through careers in the worlds of business, academia, and political life.
Working in the Clinton White House, I would observe the cabinet secretaries and senior staff with fascination. Why was it that Treasury Secretary Bob Rubin would walk down the halls of the White House and people would practically bow in respect, while another Cabinet Secretary would elicit nowhere near the same respect?
Why are some places such great places to work, while others feel grueling? Why is it that one teacher is beloved by students while another is loathed and feared? What is that magical quality that brings out the best in people, and is it a secret held by a precious few or something available to us all?
This book is my effort to address these questions. I don’t claim to have discovered the exclusive “secret sauce” of leadership for the twenty-first century, because the answers to these questions have been here all along—but they are often missed or ignored. I have been fortunate enough to have a front row seat in some of our nation’s most prestigious governmental, academic, and business institutions, and I have witnessed both leadership success and leadership failure in places large and small, public and private.