Who Makes History? The Rare Leaders Who Change the World

Harvard Kennedy School

Harvard Kennedy School Research Fellow Gautam Mukunda is an internationally recognized expert in leadership. He is the author of Indispensable: When Leaders Really Matter and Picking Presidents: How to Make the Most Important Decision in the World, along with many articles on leadership and innovation. He was previously an Assistant Professor at Harvard Business School and a consultant with McKinsey & Company.


Who Makes History?

The answer is – fewer people than you think. Going all the way back to the ancient Greeks, scholars have debated whether individual people make history, or if world changing events are simply the product of larger social, political, and economic forces. The real answer is surprising. Most of the time, leaders don’t matter – they’re basically interchangeable with all the other people who could have been in their shoes. Sometimes, however, unique leaders can come to power who are very different from everyone else who might have gotten the job. These leaders can make choices that no one else would and reshape the fate of companies, and even countries – for better or for worse. This class will tell you how to identify those leaders and predict which ones are likely to succeed.



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