My most recent book – Hard Times: Leadership in America – was published in October by Stanford University Press. The book explores the impact of context on leadership and followership.

Beginning February 3, I started posting, in this space, excerpts. They are in the order in which they appear in the book.

Excerpt from Chapter 4 – Politics

“Still, there is a pervasive sense, largely justified, that even if [government is] working, it is not working as well as it should, or nearly as well as it did. This matters of itself – and it matters because our opinion of leaders in government affects our opinion of leaders more broadly. Disappointment in the former tends to contaminate our view of the latter. It’s one of the reasons why leadership in twenty-fist century America is so difficult to exercise: the political culture generally, and political leaders specifically, have poisoned the well.

What’s happened? What’s gone wrong? More particularly, what’s gone wrong during the past half century when Americans’ trust in government and in those who people it, particularly at the federal level, have plummeted? The reasons fall into two categories: exogenous, external to politics; and endogenous, internal to politics – that is, to politicians and the political system.”



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