The "King" on Leadership
When I heard yesterday that longtime CNN interviewer Larry King was retiring, I immediately recalled his appearance in April 2006 during ASAE & The Center for Association Leadership's National Capital Distinguished Speaker Series, when he conducted an on-stage interview with the always-fascinating linguist and author Deborah Tannen.
But it was before the curtains parted that made the biggest impression on me: He and I did our own interview for Associations Now (July 2006), exploring highlights from his 50 years of interviews with global leaders, as well as 22 years as founder of The Larry King Cardiac Foundation. I thought I'd share some snippets about leadership from that conversation as tribute to "the King" with whom so many of us have grown up:
ME: You've had a chance through [your board work at the Dan Abraham Center for Strategic Dialogue in Israel] to witness first-hand many world leaders in action as they try to reach consensus on very tough problems. What's been your takeaway from these encounters?
KING: The first thing you take away is that [leaders] do put their pants on one leg at a time. They have attained a certain position in life, and they have enormous responsibility, but they're first and foremost regular people. ... They also think about the same things you think about: 'How is my daughter doing? How is my son going to go to college?' ... I think it's enormous pressure to be a leader; in fact, I came to like politicians. ... Politicians of every stripe do something I've never done: They get to have a Tuesday in November in which they get counted, and they lose. I've never had that. I've never had a Tuesday in November when I could look and say, 'I've been rejected today.' They face winning and losing, so on that alone I give them a lot of credit.
ME: You have witnessed the rise and fall of many types of leaders and leadership styles in the world. What kinds of leadership skills do people need most today [in 2006] to succeed?
KING: They're going to need a combination of things. They're going to need the personality of [former President] Bill Clinton, who draws you to him and is kind of magnetic. They're going to need the brain of [former President Richard] Nixon, who had a steel-trap mind. He had a lot of personal hang-ups, but he was brilliant, scholarly. He really knew the game, and he certainly knew foreign affairs. You need the gentility of [former President] George [H.W.] Bush ..., who is an extraordinarily kind person. You need the aura of a [President Ronald] Reagan-- ... someone who comes into a room and makes you feel good--and the gentleness of [former President Jimmy] Carter--a very bright, bright guy. If you put them all together, that might be my perfect leader.
|| Permalink | Comments (1)|