Are Leaders Born or Made?

February 22, 2019  • Aspen Ideas to Go

What qualities make a good leader? Are leaders born with these attributes or can they be learned? In her seventh book, Leadership in Turbulent Times, presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin writes about the lives of four presidents: Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Lyndon B. Johnson. Though their backgrounds were different, these men shared a powerful ambition and resilience that carried them through hardship. Goodwin writes that they were “guided by a sense of moral purpose.” She speaks with Kitty Boone, vice president of public programs at the Aspen Institute, about how the presidents’ leadership traits can be adopted and used by aspiring leaders.

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