Richard Nixon on Leaders

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been reading Leaders by Richard Nixon (Warner Books, 1982).  It included an introductory chapter, chapters on Winston Churchill, Charles de Gaulle, Douglas MacArthur and Shigeru Yoshida, Konrad Adenauer, Nikita Khrushchev, and Zhou Enlai, plus a chapter on a collection of lesser leaders, like India’s Nehru and Egypt’s Nasser. Finally was a chapter of reflections on leadership.

The book did provide useful insight on that period of history.  I gained a new respect for the challenges of rebuilding post-war Europe.  (De Gaulle was quoted as saying  “In the Second World War, all the nations of Europe lost; two were defeated.) The chapter about MacArthur and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshida was particularly illuminating; I’d never read much about Japan’s successful reconstruction before.  Of course, Nixon was ever the Republican; he admired MacArthur and gave short shrift to Democrats Harry Truman and Jimmy Carter.

In the final chapter, Nixon made some timeless comments about leadership, including “…the qualities required for leadership are not necessarily those that we would want our children to emulate — unless we wanted them to be leaders.”  And as might be expected from him, “The maxim ‘Nice guys finish last’ is far more applicable to politics than to sports.”

Something to think about as we gear up for yet another long presidential campaign.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *