by Dov Seidman
Admiral James Stavridis, former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO and current Dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, recommended President Trump five books in the earnest spirit that “reading can make people better leaders.” Each offers insights into the human condition and metaphors for navigating the vicissitudes of life, and when taken together, a model of leadership that can serve to “illuminate the path ahead” in the 21st century. It is an honor that Admiral Stavridis included How in such esteemed company, alongside Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals, Steven Pressfield’s Gates of Fire, and Michael Shaara’s The Killer Angels.
I admire Admiral Stavridis’ remarkable journey of leadership and distinguished service and especially his leadership of NATO, which was animated by an ethos of collaboration and cooperation and rooted in the organization’s fundamentally “values-based approach.” Admiral Stavridis’ commitment to shared values above shared interests couldn’t be more necessary in our increasingly interdependent world. Unlike shared interests, shared values do not fluctuate when convenient. They are sustainable and “endure as a north star” for disparate nations to find commonality and united purpose.
This is the most responsive model of leadership for our interdependent world and the only kind that is thus responsible. There is only one available strategy for leading, governing, and thriving: we must embrace and forge healthy interdependencies based upon behavior, relationships, and shared values so that we rise, instead of fall, together. This is one of How’s central messages, and one that I hope leaders of countries, communities, and companies alike might find useful.