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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.

Archive: Howard Gardner

Tough it out

If you want to hold onto power as an autocrat, you have no choice but to 'tough it out.' In the long run, you or your descendants will be overthrown...

By Howard Gardner | February 22, 2011; 10:09 AM ET | Comments (12)

It's hard to be hopeful

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...

By Howard Gardner | January 11, 2011; 10:42 AM ET | Comments (3)

It all depends on your goal

Republican leaders seem focused principally on winning the 2012 presidential and congressional elections. At first I expect them to follow the oppositional course. But as the date of those elections approaches...

By Howard Gardner | January 4, 2011; 11:31 AM ET | Comments (1)

Obama needs to take a stand

Obama looks like an individual without strong values for which he is willing to go to the mat--except for the value of mediation and compromise, which does not work when you occupy a role that requires decisions and the appearance of decisiveness...

By Howard Gardner | December 7, 2010; 10:02 AM ET | Comments (4)

Obama needs to go to the mat

It is important to stress, to repeat, that in the latter years of the Clinton administration, there was actually a budget surplus. If we could have a surplus a decade ago, there is no reason in principle that we can't have one some years from now...

By Howard Gardner | November 30, 2010; 11:15 AM ET | Comments (2)

Get the messaging right

Placing the current, less-than-optional measures within a larger, rational context is the best way for leaders to proceed--whether they head airport security or the US government...

By Howard Gardner | November 22, 2010; 01:57 PM ET | Comments (1)

Obama's three first steps

More important than speed is thoughtfulness. President Obama should take time to study the results of the election, plus any associated polling and background interviews and information. Thereafter he should do three things...

By Howard Gardner | November 1, 2010; 03:09 PM ET | Comments (1)

No time for twiddling thumbs

President Obama is now experiencing the backlash against Exaggerated Expectations. And Christie and Cameron need to do a lot more work--and have a lot more luck--before their temporary surge in popularity becomes...

By Howard Gardner | October 12, 2010; 10:33 AM ET | Comments (0)

Zuckerberg doesn't live his own company's story

one aspect of the Zuckerberg tale is fascinating for students of leadership: leaders should have a story to tell and they should embody that story in their own lives. Zuckerberg's story is about the power of connections and about the limits of privacy...

By Howard Gardner | October 4, 2010; 01:55 PM ET | Comments (0)

Put yourself in another's spit-shined shoes

A key to effective leadership is for the leader to be able to put himself in the shoes of each of his lieutenants, and for the lieutenants, in turn, to be able to put themselves in the shoes of the leader. If senior military officers were unable to understand what President Obama was requesting...

By Howard Gardner | September 27, 2010; 02:57 PM ET | Comments (1)

Tea Party: Informal leadership can only get you so far

I'm doubtful that, absent more conventional leadership, the Tea Party will be able to be constructive--as well as destructive. If it manages to achieve legislative or executive results...

By Howard Gardner | September 21, 2010; 10:31 AM ET | Comments (1)

Voters don't know or care about the 'traditional process'

Currently most voters are unhappy with their lot and with the direction of the country. Accordingly, anyone in office, irrespective of what office or what they've done in office, will be on the defensive. Rest assured, no matter what they had done or not done, Fenty and Obama would be on easy street if unemployment were at 4%.

By Howard Gardner | September 15, 2010; 10:32 AM ET | Comments (0)

Leaders must justify the value of their principles

Leaders need core principles, carefully arrived at, clearly articulated, maintained steadfastly even in the face of challenges. Otherwise, others will simply be confused by their actions and the reasons for them. But anyone who believes that core values are...

By Howard Gardner | September 7, 2010; 10:32 AM ET | Comments (0)

Don't underestimate the employee-supervisor bond

No one would question the importance of top management. But a recent study of the financial industry, undertaken by Harvard undergraduate Evelyn Chow, underscores the important role played by immediate supervisors...

By Howard Gardner | September 1, 2010; 01:32 PM ET | Comments (1)

It's not when, but what Obama said

A leader should speak up when the matter calls for his attention, when he has a well thought out and articulated position with respect to the relevant issues, and when he has thought through the various possible reactions to his remarks and anticipated those reactions as much as possible. With respect to his remarks about the mosque, and also about the arrest of Prof. Henry Louis Gates, the problem for Pres. Obama was not a matter of timing.

By Howard Gardner | August 23, 2010; 01:43 PM ET | Comments (1)

The problem is Congress, not summer recess

It's hard to consider this question on its merits. When in session, this Congress has become increasingly dysfunctional. There is no reasonable prospect that, if called in in session, this Congress would act on climate change or immigration.

By Howard Gardner | August 16, 2010; 03:49 PM ET | Comments (0)

Warren Bennis: Still surprising at 85

It is not an accident that Warren was chosen to lead other soldiers in battle when he was barely 20 years of age;that Warren's dissertation and first papers were widely acclaimed; that he was offered tenure at MIT at a tender age; and that he has an unequaled set of friends and admirers.

By Howard Gardner | August 11, 2010; 10:03 AM ET | Comments (0)

Mark Hurd exits speaks for itself

The speed and manner of Hurd's resignation increases the likelihood that working for HP will continue to mean something special. Redeeming that likelihood is the challenge for the next leadership, thousands of supporting employees, and, especially, the Board.

By Howard Gardner | August 9, 2010; 05:16 PM ET | Comments (5)

Best heroes are the quietest

I don't think we lack any CEO heroes. But I suspect that the true heroes are largely unsung, and prefer to remain that way.

By Howard Gardner | July 26, 2010; 02:44 PM ET | Comments (6)

Test for competence

With improvements in medical science and in health generally, we need to be flexible about retirement ages.

By Howard Gardner | June 28, 2010; 02:54 PM ET | Comments (0)

Obama's opposable mind

F. Scott Fitzgerald famously said, "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function."

By Howard Gardner | June 23, 2010; 10:25 AM ET | Comments (0)

More than slick slogans

Those who acknowledge the deep values of education, which date are exemplified by our most respected and long-lived institutions, are likely to be far more successful than those who embrace the slick slogan and the quick fix.

By Howard Gardner | May 25, 2010; 06:39 AM ET | Comments (0)

Ivies more diverse than ever

In 1960, the Ivy League was filled with white males, mostly WASP, with a sprinkling of Jews and Catholics, and one or two token blacks per campus.

By Howard Gardner | May 18, 2010; 05:29 AM ET | Comments (0)

She's got the skills

The fact that she was nominated to be a judge a decade ago indicates that even at that time, before she had been a successful law school dean, she was already considered to have the requisite skills.

By Howard Gardner | May 10, 2010; 01:01 PM ET | Comments (0)

Post-IPO deception

By most accounts, so long as Goldman Sachs was a partnership, it behaved in a professional manner and was justifiably respected for its behaviors.

By Howard Gardner | April 27, 2010; 06:34 AM ET | Comments (1)

Don't ask me, I support it

Asking me to help the Republicans trash the new health care law is like asking James Carville to give sound advice to the Republicans.

By Howard Gardner | March 23, 2010; 10:49 AM ET | Comments (1)

No room for knee-jerks

Though I don't often find myself quoting Henry Kissinger favorably, I think his long-held position on "grand" strategy is on the mark in this case.

By Howard Gardner | March 16, 2010; 05:35 AM ET | Comments (0)

No Oprah-style confession

In an age of transparency, it is not possible to hide these personal habits, so far better to be straightforward and honest about them.

By Howard Gardner | March 1, 2010; 02:07 PM ET | Comments (0)

Our wrong-headed politics

The public has come to expect that Justice Department decisions should be based on political grounds. That is simply wrong!

By Howard Gardner | February 16, 2010; 12:10 PM ET | Comments (12)

Faux leadership stripes

The notion that one has to have strong leadership skills to attain high office seems anachronistic. Celebrity appeal, a dash of charisma, and a pandering message seem to suffice.

By Howard Gardner | February 9, 2010; 06:09 AM ET | Comments (67)

Flip-flopping -- or not?

As John Kerry learned too late, leaders who change their mind need to offer strong explanations.

By Howard Gardner | February 4, 2010; 02:34 PM ET | Comments (0)

Feeding the ignorance

Most Americans cannot even conceptualize the idea that we need to have both higher taxes AND fewer services.

By Howard Gardner | February 2, 2010; 05:50 AM ET | Comments (30)

'Where I went wrong'

"This past year too much of our attention in Washington has been directed at institutions in crisis: banks, auto companies and health care. I did not pay enough attention to you."

By Howard Gardner | January 25, 2010; 03:47 PM ET | Comments (0)

Costly missteps

we all say foolish things. What counts is how we behave when our words come back to haunt us, and Reid has passed that test.

By Howard Gardner | January 11, 2010; 02:23 PM ET | Comments (6)

A no-brainer

Leaders need to consistently present their social and political value system, with positions that are changed only for good and sufficient reason.

By Howard Gardner | December 21, 2009; 01:47 PM ET | Comments (5)

Just a role model

Tiger Woods has shown himself not to be a responsible family man, but his power as a role model for success remains intact.

By Howard Gardner | December 7, 2009; 01:57 PM ET | Comments (5)

Time for substance

If anything, the Obama presidency has been so focused on symbolic conduct that sometimes symbols have become, or seemed to become, a substitute for policy.

By Howard Gardner | November 23, 2009; 02:03 PM ET | Comments (0)

Tall order for media and business

Public confidence in media and business leaders will not rise unless they individually and collectively do a lot of self-examination and then self-improvement.

By Howard Gardner | November 2, 2009; 01:50 PM ET | Comments (0)

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.

By Howard Gardner | October 19, 2009; 02:39 PM ET | Comments (1)

Nominee: Social Entrepreneurs

A Nobel Prize for Leadership, in my view, would be awarded to those who bring about change for the good of humanity -- today, that means social entrepreneurs.

By Howard Gardner | October 13, 2009; 02:00 PM ET | Comments (0)

Pocketing the Blackberry

If a meeting is merited, it should demand the complete attention of all present.

By Howard Gardner | October 6, 2009; 06:44 AM ET | Comments (3)

Malignant Megalomaniac

As a personality, Ahmedinejad should be completely ignored.

By Howard Gardner | September 29, 2009; 05:40 AM ET | Comments (9)

Boldly Reconsidering

Obama could do the nation, indeed the world, a favor if he could convert such a major change in course into a learning experience.

By Howard Gardner | September 22, 2009; 05:58 AM ET | Comments (1)

Still Time for Mea Culpas

Personally I am dubious that Wall Street will heal itself, but the culture may change if top leaders take responsibility for the crisis.

By Howard Gardner | September 14, 2009; 01:01 PM ET | Comments (1)

Giant in Training

There are now few if any giants in American politics, but I am not alone in believing Barack Obama has the potential for giant-dom.

By Howard Gardner | August 31, 2009; 12:57 PM ET | Comments (0)

The Playboy, the Leader

A playboy, a womanizer, a child of "royalty" -- yet Ted Kennedy still grew and developed as a leader.

By Howard Gardner | August 27, 2009; 11:15 AM ET | Comments (0)

Reduce Our Commitment

President Obama made a huge mistake in taking on Afghanistan as "his" war.

By Howard Gardner | August 24, 2009; 12:13 PM ET | Comments (0)

'Rahm-ing' It Through

President Obama can resort to a Machiavellian '"stick" approach or he can attempt to educate or inspire the country to a different model of how to do business.

By Howard Gardner | August 18, 2009; 12:44 PM ET | Comments (1)

Find Your Philosophy

Put forth your own philosophy of recreation-and-renewal, apply it to the specific situation at hand, and remain as consistent as you can throughout the term of your leadership.

By Howard Gardner | August 10, 2009; 11:26 AM ET | Comments (1)

The Essential Assist

Pres. Obama did not want to revisit the Gates-Crowley affair after his "stupidly" remark at the press conference. It was Michelle Obama and, I would guess, Valerie Jarrett who said to him, in effect, "You made this worse, now make it better."

By Howard Gardner | August 3, 2009; 12:53 PM ET | Comments (11)

The Unbottled Genie

If there were illegalities or gross improprieties carried out by the CIA, with explicit White House approval, the current administration has no choice but to allow an investigation to go forward. Otherwise, the current administration becomes party to a cover-up.

By Howard Gardner | July 13, 2009; 01:20 PM ET | Comments (2)

Palin Wins With Authenticity

No matter that she does not know the facts, no matter that she isn't qualified to govern -- she looks the part and she calls it as she sees it.

By Howard Gardner | July 7, 2009; 01:19 PM ET | Comments (0)

Getting Away With It

If your wandering eye is well known, and you don't make a big deal about family values, then you can get away with escapades.

By Howard Gardner | June 29, 2009; 04:34 PM ET | Comments (1)

Regrettable But Acceptable

Though regrettable, Steve Jobs' silence about his recent illnesses is not a venal violation of the principles of leadership.

By Howard Gardner | June 22, 2009; 10:38 AM ET | Comments (0)

Making a Virtue of Necessity

It is telling that the personal histories prove more salient in the case of women and minorities than in the case of white males, where it should be equally relevant.

By Howard Gardner | June 8, 2009; 10:29 AM ET | Comments (1)

Don't Count Years

Length of time is not the issue; appropriateness for the position and the capacity to change and grow are the crucial factors in deciding when a leader should leave.

By Howard Gardner | May 26, 2009; 04:36 PM ET | Comments (0)

Don't Be Too Cautious

This is the appointment of yours that is likely to have the longest term impact, so please be sure to select someone who is young, healthy, of steady and sound temperament.

By Howard Gardner | May 18, 2009; 03:59 PM ET | Comments (0)

Hardly Helpful

I find it hard to believe that any knowledgeable person, of any political persuasion, would approve of the way that former Vice President Cheney has conducted himself in recent months.

By Howard Gardner | May 11, 2009; 04:01 PM ET | Comments (1)

Explain Precautions

When confronting any threat -- terrorism, stock-market swings, swine flu -- public officials should not only make sound recommendations but explain the reasoning behind them, so we can make our own decisions.

By Howard Gardner | April 27, 2009; 11:12 AM ET | Comments (0)

Best Learn by Observing

Unless one believes that some of us are born leaders, while others could never become leaders, the answer to the question is obvious: "Leadership can and should be taught."

By Howard Gardner | April 20, 2009; 11:34 AM ET | Comments (2)

Rebuilding the American Image

President Obama is making it possible to have better, saner relations, and for that the whole world owes him a very big thank you.

By Howard Gardner | April 6, 2009; 06:49 PM ET | Comments (0)

Ungraceful Wagoner

If Wagoner had any grace, he would have resigned months or even years ago. But so many of current leaders-- political as well as business-- live in bubbles removed from reality.

By Howard Gardner | March 30, 2009; 05:43 PM ET | Comments (2)

Walking the Minefield

Leadership is often about making mistakes -- and learning from them.

By Howard Gardner | March 22, 2009; 09:30 PM ET | Comments (0)

Earn Less, That Others May Work

Leaders in public institutions don't need to take a vow of poverty. But earning more than two or three times as much as the U.S. president is hardly a vow of poverty.

By Howard Gardner | March 15, 2009; 08:55 PM ET | Comments (0)

Barbarians at the University Gate

Wall Street recruiters look for students clever enough to earn profits at almost any price. Whether this aggressive profile relates to gender, testosterone, ambition, identification with the barbarians at the gates, or lack of ethical fiber, I will leave for others to decide.

By Howard Gardner | March 9, 2009; 03:34 AM ET | Comments (0)

Hold the Details

The president is most effective when he lays out general principles and places specific plans and priorities within them. Too many details at this point are likely to cause disengagement on the part of the public and quibbling on the part of the Beltway partisans.

By Howard Gardner | March 2, 2009; 10:46 AM ET | Comments (0)

Be Ready to Quit

Assuming that you have any choice in the matter, you should never accept a position unless you are clear in your own mind under what conditions you will resign that position. Otherwise, you are sacrificing your own judgment and are simply an automaton in someone else's enterprise.

By Howard Gardner | February 23, 2009; 10:50 AM ET | Comments (0)

Juror Number Eight

Do you need to change the minds of the people around you? Even President Obama might learn something from watching "Twelve Angry Men."

By Howard Gardner | February 17, 2009; 11:31 AM ET | Comments (0)

Talking with the Troops

President Obama has set an impressive example for leading through hard times: keep in regular touch with your troops and share the good, the bad and the ugly.

By Howard Gardner | February 9, 2009; 10:13 AM ET | Comments (0)

Brainwashed Nation

Most of us are repelled today by the obscene bonuses paid to companies, and I am not holding my breath until some limits are imposed on greedy salaries and unlimited bonuses.

By Howard Gardner | February 2, 2009; 10:13 AM ET | Comments (3)

Tricky Equation

Derek Bok, Charles de Gaulle, An Wang, Kurt Warner -- sometimes it's your moment to shine, and sometimes its not. The tricky part is figuring out when.

By Howard Gardner | January 25, 2009; 09:30 PM ET | Comments (0)

Educator of the Nation

A leader is an individual with a powerful story to communicate to a heterogeneous audience, and whose own life embodies that story.

By Howard Gardner | January 21, 2009; 11:02 AM ET | Comments (0)

Failure, With a Few Good Points

Faint praise aside, Bush must take the blame and be recorded as a failed leader.

By Howard Gardner | January 5, 2009; 10:39 AM ET | Comments (5)

Exam Time for Obama

How Barack Obama handles this potential political crisis could be as important as how he handled the dicey situations with Rev. Wright or Bill Ayres.

By Howard Gardner | December 15, 2008; 10:14 AM ET | Comments (2)

Apologize, Resign and Do Good

Leaders who have been negligent and irresponsible should admit their errors, resign their positions, and devote the next period of their lives to doing good work.

By Howard Gardner | December 8, 2008; 06:21 PM ET | Comments (1)

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