The Second Most Important Ability for a Leader

December 29, 2020  • Aspen Ideas Now

If the ability to listen is arguably the most important quality of a great leader, what’s the second? A sense of humor ranks high, according to Dan Glickman, who served 18 years in Congress, was secretary of agriculture in the Clinton administration, and will soon retire as executive director of the Aspen Institute Congressional Program. He points to former presidents like Reagan, FDR, and Lincoln. “Nobody was funnier than Lincoln,” he says, adding that being able to laugh at yourself gives you an edge at persuasiveness. We asked Glickman to reflect on this past year and to share what he expects from our country under President-elect Joe Biden’s leadership. Watch his conversation with longtime colleague Peggy Clark, executive director of the Aspen Global Innovators Group.