America's Best Leaders

Where have all the leaders gone? As Americans survey a landscape that seems uncommonly bleak, a new national survey commissioned for this issue of U.S. News found that two thirds of the public believes the nation is in a leadership crisis, while nearly three quarters worries that unless we find better leaders soon, the nation will begin to decline. Some 9 of every 10 people say political leaders today spend too much time attacking rivals, while 8 of 10 believe that corporate leaders are more concerned with making money than with running their companies well.

There are some glimmers of hope, however. As it did last year, U.S. News teamed with the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government to identify leaders who are making a difference. A national panel sifted through thickets of recommendations and agreed on a small group of men and women who embody the most important traits of leadership. There may be a dearth of leadership in our national life, but as the portraits in this issue attest, there are still great leaders abroad in the land.
-David Gergen, cochair, "America's Best Leaders" project

By David Gergen