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Andrew Adonis

Feb 7, 2022

It's the Leader, Stupid

Changemakers in Modern Politics


Leaders dominate coverage of political history and election campaigns and there is hardly a historian or election analyst who doesn't attribute importance to leadership. But the argument of this book from Lord Andrew Adonis is different. In It's the Leader, Stupid: Changemakers in Modern Politics (2021), he argues that leaders are basically all that matter to the course of politics.

In this incisive group portrait of many of the foremost leaders of modern democratic states, from Churchill and Lincoln to Biden and Modi, Adonis analyses the fundamentals of political leadership in western politics. Dramatic and novel accounts of the battles between Gladstone and Marx, and Stalin and Bevin, illuminate the impact of the political struggle between rival leaders on the fate of liberty, constitutions and social and economic structures within as much as between different nations in each generation.

Drawing on three decades of experience of politics and government, as a historian and journalist and as a politician himself who spent 12 years at the heart of the British government, Adonis offers a stimulating account of modern politics and many of the leaders who shaped it, for good or ill. 

In our conversation, we flit across the centuries and the continents, piecing together the core dichotomies of political leadership. Knowing when to join the majority and when to lead it; how to transform yourself whilst staying true to your core; the art of seizing the initiative without being swept away by the momentum you have created. More than insights reserved for political elites, these are lessons in leadership for us all, and in our podcast, we piece together how to turn them into leadership lessons relevant for all walks of life.

Leo Nasskau writes about how leadership can build societies for the 21st century at, where you can join the conversation and read Leo's follow-up insights of what we can learn from the book (also accessible via Leo would also love your feedback: go to to help him produce better podcasts.

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Leo Nasskau

Leo writes and thinks about leadership and change, exploring how leaders can build societies fit for the 21st century. We face change in our economic, social, and political worlds; it is the role of leaders, in business, society, and politics, to ensure that this change manifests as opportunities rather than challenges. He blogs at
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