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Michael Beschloss: Effective Leaders Embody Guts, Persuasiveness, Sense of History and Civility

From George Washington’s foreign diplomacy, to Abraham Lincoln’s willingness to reach across the aisle to pass the Emancipation Proclamation and Lyndon Johnson’s Civil Rights Act of 1964, time and time again effective leaders have understood the need to set aside partisan differences. Drawing on candid stories from past U.S. presidents, historian and best-selling author Michael Beschloss outlined four key characteristics of effective leaders while also drawing parallels to President Trump and his predecessors in the Oval Office.

Watch the highlights below:

Following his keynote address, Beschloss was joined on stage by The Detroit News’ Nolan Finley for a question-and-answer session.

Key takeaways:

Successful leaders embody four qualities:

  • Guts: Presidents often must make decisions that may make other people unhappy.
  • Persuasiveness: Presidents like Abraham Lincoln were successful through their ability to articulate decisions effectively.
  • Sense of History: Knowledge of the successes and failures of past presidents provides current leaders context to make tough decisions in times of intense pressure.
  • Civility: The founding fathers wanted conflict with the belief that compromise and making deals would make the country stronger.
  • To have an accurate understanding of a president’s actions it often takes decades. Issues or decisions that invoke deep emotion are often seen in a different light after a president leaves office.
  • Much like Andrew Johnson, President Trump is known for shaking things up in Washington.
  • It is very likely a president will be impeached and removed from office in our lifetime but it is too early to tell how President Trump will emerge from the Russian scandal plaguing his administration.
  • Congress is taking allegations of President Trump’s connections to Russia seriously and Americans should have faith in the system.
  • President Trump must be willing to reach across the aisle, set aside his ego, and hire people who have more knowledge and experience on key domestic and international issues.
  • The role of the press and the presidency should be revered to keep the Executive Office in check.

The session was sponsored by Ford Motor Co. and ties to the Conference pillar of restoring civility in American politics.