Fast Company

Oval Office Lessons

Kearns Goodwin, at home in Concord, Massachusetts, has been studying presidents for more than four decades.

Historian and political scientist Doris Kearns Goodwin won the Pulitzer Prize for No Ordinary Time, a biography of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. She wrote the definitive book on Abraham Lincoln, Team of Rivals. Now, with Leadership: In Turbulent Times out September 18, she reveals the management secrets of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson. Here, she talks with Adam Grant—the Wharton organizational psychologist, author (Give and Take, Originals), and podcast host (TED’s WorkLife)—about what we can learn from these presidents about storytelling, crisis management, and having a life beyond work.

I think of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Franklin D. Roosevelt as among the greatest presidents in history. Why did Johnson also make the cut? Because of what [he helped accomplish for] civil rights, his vision with the Great Society, and his ability to deal with Congress on a bipartisan basis, which is so sorely lacking in these last decades. Clearly, that leadership was not translated to the war

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