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Exploring Leadership in the News with Steven Pearlstein and Raju Narisetti

THE QUESTION

Filling a leadership void?

What is it about airline Captain "Sully" Sullenberger and his "miracle on the Hudson" that has so fascinated the public? Is it his competence, his coolness under pressure, his humility, or the self-less teamwork of his crew? What does it say about the public's hunger for leadership?


Posted by Steve Pearlstein and Raju Narisetti on October 19, 2009 2:08 PM
FROM THE PANEL
Gail S. Williams

The untarnished hero

The public's fascination with Captain Sullenberger is attributable more to deep hunger for selfless heroes than a conscious concern with leadership.

Posted by Gail S. Williams, on October 27, 2009 10:42 AM

The return of Joltin' Joe

For my parents' generation, Joe DiMaggio was an archetypal American hero. Capt. Sullenberger, with his quiet competence, now seems to have stepped up to that plate.

Posted by Bob Schoultz, on October 22, 2009 10:21 AM
Doug Feaver

Captain of his team

Competence, coolness under pressure and outstanding teamwork do not happen fluently if the captain of the team chokes.

Posted by Doug Feaver, on October 21, 2009 10:00 AM
Robert Goodwin

'Service before self'

As legendary basketball coach John Wooden used to say, "Sports do not build character. They reveal it." The same is true in a crisis.

Posted by Robert Goodwin, on October 21, 2009 6:08 AM

The opposite of 'balloon boy'

Most Americans are tired of hyped-up media sensations like Michael Jackson or 'balloon boy' and inspired by stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

Posted by Andy Stern, on October 20, 2009 4:08 PM

If Wall Street were an airline

Captain Sullenberger exhibited the kind of can-do, can't-fail leadership that business needs if we hope to re-build it into a trustworthy enterprise.

Posted by Barry Salzberg, on October 20, 2009 11:33 AM
Michael Maccoby

Our secret hope

Against our suspicion that leaders are self-seeking egomaniacs, we still hope that when we are in danger, a competent, trustworthy, selfless leader will emerge to save the situation.

Posted by Michael Maccoby, on October 20, 2009 11:09 AM
Yash Gupta

Made in the U.S.A.

Capt. Sullenberger didn't just elevate the public's opinion of the airline industry; he also restored pride in the skill of American workers.

Posted by Yash Gupta, on October 20, 2009 11:04 AM

'What's my river?'

Many of us are not in roles that yield such immediate, high stakes, or tangible signs of success. Capt. Sully's success reminds me to ask: What river are we aiming for?

Posted by Tom Monahan, on October 20, 2009 8:17 AM
Slade Gorton

No back-seat drivers

Leadership is easier to discern Sullenberger's case, and in sports and war, than it is in politics and public policy because it is clear cut and unequivocal.

Posted by Slade Gorton, on October 20, 2009 6:32 AM

Hero insanity

If Americans weren't so burned out by all the bad behavior by politicians and celebrities, we'd reserve the word "hero" and "leader" for circumstances that actually merit their application.

Posted by Alan M. Webber, on October 19, 2009 9:06 PM
Michael Useem

Not a five-minute journey

In Sullenberger's story, we come to appreciate the highest calling of leadership: An absolute focus on the mission, whatever the chaos, fears, or even terror of the moment.

Posted by Michael Useem, on October 19, 2009 5:28 PM
Ed O'Malley

The quiet workers

Perhaps we are fascinated because we hope there are many more Sullies out there, quietly leading and working for the betterment of us all.

Posted by Ed O'Malley, on October 19, 2009 3:57 PM
Beth A. Brooke

When nobody is looking

Everyone today who appears to be a role model or a hero ends up disappointing us. With Capt. Sully, the more we learned, the more we admired.

Posted by Beth A. Brooke, on October 19, 2009 3:53 PM

Does hero = leader?

I am not sure people think of "Sully" as a leader, as much as they think of him as a "hero," but in U.S. politics, heroes often called upon to be political leaders.

Posted by Howard Gardner, on October 19, 2009 2:39 PM

The power of humility

As leadership authors, we often describe leaders who give more than they take. When a story like Sully's comes along, we are able to say, "There it is, that's what I mean."

Posted by Lt. Col. Todd Henshaw (Ret.), on October 19, 2009 2:35 PM
Kurt Schmoke

Understated leadership

In the current political environment, elected leaders are not rewarded for quiet, calm and understated leadership.

Posted by Kurt Schmoke, on October 19, 2009 2:32 PM

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FEATURED COMMENTS

Mitchavery7: PROFESSIONAL. Kept doing his job under the most adverse conditions. The show must go on. Or it doesn't. Economy. Healthcare. 2 wars of quest...

whocares666: In the words of a former ARMY Company Commander... "don't thank me it's my job". He was a professional who I've tried to emulate....

boblund1: This is a bona fide hero. Leader? That' a stretch. In a very short time span he went from just another airline pilot to hero. Yes, he di...

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