Brave the Storm. Lead Courageously.

What qualities make a truly great leader? Harvard Business School professor and historian Nancy Koehn has spent a decade dissecting the lives of five leaders to make a powerful discovery: great leaders are made, not born and the power to lead resides in each of us. Forged in Crisis is her visionary epic, drawing from the past to bring critical lessons to the present. With its impact and timeliness, there is no other book like it.

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  • As important and inspiring as it is urgent.

    Michael Bloomberg

    founder of Bloomberg LP,
    former mayor of New York City

  • A close analysis of five gritty leaders whose extraordinary passion and perseverance changed history. A gripping read on a timeless and timely topic!

    Angela Duckworth

    Bestselling Author of Grit

  • This book moved me deeply and will stay with me. Simply put, it’s the most important, coherent, values-based, servant leadership book I’ve ever read.

    Howard Schultz

    Executive Chairman
    of Starbucks

  • With spirited prose that highlights crucial moments of testing and triumph, Nancy Koehn breathes life into the past as she shows what it takes to lead. In challenging times, this book is an essential read.

    Zoë Baird

    CEO and President,
    The Markle Foundation

In Forged in Crisis, Nancy Koehn, a Harvard Business School professor and Davos and Aspen Institute speaker, crafts an in-depth portrait of five extraordinary figures—Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton, American President Abraham Lincoln, escaped slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass, Nazi-resisting clergyman Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and environmental activist Rachel Carson—that illuminates how great leaders are made in times of adversity and the diverse skills they summon in order to prevail.

What do such disparate figures have in common? Why do their stories speak to us so powerfully today?

Each story begins with one of our protagonists on the precipice of a great crisis: Shackleton marooned on an Antarctic ice floe with no hope of rescue; Lincoln on the verge of the collapse of the Union; Douglass threatened with a return to enslavement; Bonhoeffer agonizing on what a man of faith should do when faced with absolute evil; Carson racing against the clock—and the cancer ravaging her—in a bid to save the planet. Koehn then reaches back to each person’s early years, pouring over private journals, letters, and historical documentation, to show the individual blooming into the force he or she would ultimately become. Through their confronting of obstacles, we begin to glean an essential truth: leaders are not born but made, and the power to lead resides in each of us.

For those looking to become a better leader, or looking to find the best leaders among us, Forged in Crisis sets the benchmark by which all will be measured.

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Nancy Koehn

Nancy Koehn is an historian at the Harvard Business School where she holds the James E. Robison chair of Business Administration. She has coached leaders from top organizations including Omnicom Group, the Estee Lauder Companies, and Athenahealth and speaks frequently at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the Aspen Ideas Festival, and the World Business ForumAn accomplished author and scholar (she earned her MA and PhD degrees in history from Harvard), she spent ten years writing Forged in Crisis, her first book aimed at a popular audience. She lives in Concord, Massachusetts, and is a dedicated equestrian.

© 2019 Nancy Koehn

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