Magazine May 4, 2020, Issue

The Coronavirus Makes Us Reconsider Assumptions about Leadership

A polling station in Brooklyn, N.Y., November 4, 2014 (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)
Who should guide us?

As a leadership professor who has served as a senior government official or CEO through several crises, I’ve been asked a number of times recently to “grade” our leaders during the coronavirus pandemic. I sometimes run through principles of good leadership in a crisis and try to match them to the conduct of our leaders (over-communicate, be realistically optimistic, bring order to chaos, lead from the front, represent all stakeholders on their terms, plan for both the short and the long term, demonstrate grit, pivot when needed, etc.). The general verdict? A mixed bag.

After a few rounds of this, I

This article appears as “Who Should Lead Us?” in the May 4, 2020, print edition of National Review.

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John Hillen, a former assistant secretary of state, is the James C. Wheat Professor in Leadership at Hampden-Sydney College’s Wilson Center for Leadership in the Public Interest, and a member of the NR, Inc. Board of Directors.

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