I love this post from Michael McKinney at Leading Blog. It’s based on a new book from Alvin Felzenberg, The Leaders We Deserved (and a Few We Didn't): Rethinking the Presidential Rating Game. Felzenberg devised six criteria to best describe various U.S. presidents’ contribution to history. Based on this exercise, he presents a list of what we should look for in presidential candidates.
Sense of Purpose. Nearly all
presidents who earned a rating of great or near great articulated specific
goals that they wanted to achieve as president.
Adversity. All of the great and near great presidents emerged from conflicts and disappointments they encountered stronger and more resilient ten they had before. This is what made their previous ordeals transformative. All regarded these adversities as learning experiences, however painful. None emerged from such setbacks regarding themselves as victims. None were known to complain or whine—at least out loud or in public—about their private misfortunes.
Broad Life Experiences. Most great and near great presidents had multiple occupations, not all of them in politics, before coming president. Through the depth and breadth of their experiences, successful presidents learned how to relate to people in all walks of life.
Natural Curiosity. Great of near great presidents remained curious all their lives about the world around them and about the cause of the problems they were called upon to solve.
Well-Developed Sense of Integrity. Look for honesty (doing what one said he would do, or explaining why unforeseen circumstances necessitated a different course), courage (meeting adversity head-on, often at political or personal risk), and integrity (placing the interests of one’s office and one’s country ahead of personal convenience or interests, or those of one’s associates).
Humility. Although confident in their abilities, successful presidents held their egos in check. All great and near great presidents understood that they would receive the credit for the achievements of their subordinates. For this reason they strove to find outstanding ones…including on occasion, former rivals and members of the opposition party.