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Exploring Leadership in the News with Steven Pearlstein and Raju Narisetti

Howard Gardner

Howard Gardner

Howard Gardner is the Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Senior Director of Harvard Project Zero.

It's hard to be hopeful

Question: Vitriolic political rhetoric is on the rise for one simple reason: it works. In the wake of the tragic shooting in Tucson, what can political, business and community leaders do to change the political dynamic so that demonizing opponents is not a winning strategy? How do we end the rhetorical arms race?

You cannot undo a destructive trend unless people who have been participants are courageous, willing to admit that they have gone too far and actually change their behaviors as a result. I am still waiting for a talk show host or politician of any political persuasion to say, "I think my rhetoric has been excessive and I am going to tone it down"--and then redeem that pledge.

There is an analogy to the Wall Street financial meltdown of September 2008. I am still waiting for a Wall Street leader to say, "My associates and I were involved in destructive behaviors and we will endorse policies that prevent a similar meltdown in the future." It's hard to be hopeful under these circumstances.

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By Howard Gardner

 |  January 11, 2011; 10:42 AM ET
Category:  Accomplishing Goals , Congressional leadership , Crisis leadership , Economic crisis , Failures , Government leadership , Leadership weaknesses , Making mistakes , Political leadership , Wrong-Doing Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Respect the rights of those who serve us | Next: From rhetoric to reality


Please report offensive comments below.

dude, olbermann already said as much. do you even pay attention to the assertions you make?

Posted by: joeblow111 | January 15, 2011 9:40 AM
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Posted by: steveandjanereed1 | January 13, 2011 6:28 PM
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If you want to change behavior, change the circumstances which may be supporting that behavior. I have been advocating for some time that Party seating in the House and Senate should be intermingled, along with other measures that get dems and repubs effectively socializing and "raising a barn" together. I see that Udall from Utah has floated the proposal for intermingled seating at least during the State of the Union Address. Anything that may help reduce the rampant tribalism is welcome. Of course, to get such a change, it may require congressmen to have an "aha" Pogo moment of humility for them to realize, and have the courage, to admit that they are in some ways part of the problem. No wait. That's not going to happen. It will have to be sold to them in some other manner.

Posted by: steveandjanereed1 | January 13, 2011 6:26 PM
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