D. Michael Lindsay

President, Gordon College

Leadership, values, and cultural change.

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Michael Lindsay is one of the country’s foremost experts on what it takes to turn individuals into effective — and even great — leaders. He is committed to helping organisations improve the ways they identify, develop, and place people in the ranks of future generations of leaders.

Michael has just finished conducting the Platinum Study, the largest and most comprehensive interview-based study of top leaders ever conducted. Its findings are collected in his new book, View From The Top: An Inside Look at How People in Power See and Shape the World. Ten years of research studying 550 elite American CEOs, senior government leaders, and nonprofit executives have yielded unmatched insights into how leaders wield power and how you can apply their strategies in your own life and work.

The results of the Platinum Study include such unexpected truths as:

  • Being born into wealth is a poor predictor of leadership success
  • One program can set you on the path to leadership
  • It doesn't matter what college you attend
  • A leader's best work never sees the light of day
  • Time-crushed executives are better situated than most to manage their family lives
  • Crisis is the quickest way for a leader to shape an institution
  • Working longer does not mean working better

Michael conveys these findings with intelligence and clarity in speeches, seminars, and interactive workshops. He shows aspiring leaders how to maximise their own development opportunities, and helps businesses and nonprofits identify and cultivate high-potential individuals.

Dr. Lindsay is the eighth president of Gordon College. He is a featured columnist for the Washington Post on leadership, and his work has been featured and appeared in the Economist, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Houston Chronicle, USA Today, Global Entrepreneur, among hundreds of other publications.

In 2006, the International Sociological Association recognised Michael as the top sociologist in the world under the age of 35.

Michael has been a consultant to the George H. Gallup International Institute, where he directed several national surveys on a range of related topics.


  • President, Gordon College
  • Founding Director, Rice University’s Program for the Study of Leadership
  • Assistant Professor of Sociology, Rice University
  • Rice Scholar, James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy
  • Author, Faith in the Halls of Power (a Publishers Weekly "Best Book of 2007")
  • Outstanding Teacher Award, Princeton University
  • Ph. D. in Sociology, Princeton University


View From the Top

An Inside Look at How People in Power See and Shape the World

D. Michael Lindsay and M. G. Hager

Learn leadership from the best — proven insights from the power elite in business, government, and beyond

View from the Top brings readers inside the corridors of power and relates the personal stories and powerful findings from the Platinum Study, a groundbreaking study of 550 elite American CEOs, senior government leaders, and nonprofit executives based on ten years of research. The largest study of its kind, the Platinum Study delves into the domains of the elite with stories that illustrate both the use and misuse of power across the landscape of prominent American institutions such as AT&T, Harvard University, UnderArmour, JP Morgan Chase, Bain & Company, and the White House. The book explores not only how leaders wield power, but it also provides readers with insight into applying the strategies of the successful in their own lives.

In the United States, only a few thousand individuals make the decisions that influence the lives of over 300 million people. Whether in the government, business, higher education, or the arts, these individuals direct policy and set the terms of national debates, yet remain virtually unknown. View from the Top explores the real lives of the elite and the social worlds they inhabit, revealing lessons about influence at the top, and the seven principles that shape those in power. The results of the Platinum Study include unexpected truths such as:

  • Being born into wealth is a poor predictor of leadership success
  • One program can set you on the path to leadership
  • It doesn't matter what college you attend
  • A leader's best work never sees the light of day
  • Time-crushed executives are better situated than most to manage their family lives
  • Crisis is the quickest way for a leader to shape an institution
  • Working longer does not mean working better

The book examines the different paths to power and describes the essence of leadership and the fundamental traits that distinguish a leader from the pack. For anyone seeking sharpen their leadership skills and impact the world around them, View from the Top: An Inside Look at How People in Power See and Shape the World provides the roadmap to taking charge and inspiring change.

John Wiley & Sons (4 Jun 2014)

Faith in the Halls of Power

How Evangelicals Joined the American Elite

D. Michael Lindsay

Faith in the Halls of Power is perhaps the most insightful book ever written on the ways that religious values have found their way into the upper echelons of social, political and business life in America, and on the people who have made it happen. D. Michael Lindsay interviewed more than 350 leaders for the book from a wide range of arenas: politics and government; business and corporate life; arts, entertainment, and the media; sports; and higher education. And these were very senior people: two former Presidents of the United States; over two dozen Cabinet secretaries and senior White House staffers; nearly 100 presidents, CEOs, or senior executives at large firms (both public and private); two dozen accomplished Hollywood professionals; over 10 leaders from the world of professional athletics, and a handful of leaders from the artistic and philanthropic arenas, among others.

Beautifully written and convincingly argued, the book shows first-hand how these men and women are bringing their vision of moral leadership into the public square. Michael tells us who these leaders are, how they rose to prominence, and what they’re doing with the authority they now wield. He shows how evangelicals became a force in American foreign policy, how Fortune 500 companies are becoming faith-friendly, and how “cosmopolitan evangelicals” are leading a new generation of the faithful. These are well-educated men and women who read both The New York Times and Christianity Today, and who are wary of the polarizing rhetoric, political extremes and insular subculture embraced by some of their co-religionists. Perhaps most startling is the importance of personal relationships between these leaders.

This book is valuable, not only for its fresh perspective on an important social movement that often suffers from superficial and unsympathetic treatment, but also for its insights into leadership and the roles that religion, values and character can play in shaping good leaders and guiding their actions.

OUP USA (8 Jan 2009)


Surprising CandorChristianity Today


"People of faith have an enormous impact on our society. Michael Lindsay's brilliant book has the story everyone else has missed. You must read this book."
— U.S. Senator Bill Frist, M.D.

"Michael Lindsay has produced a work of lasting importance. A keen and disciplined researcher of the religious scene, Lindsay…brings readers a clear and authentic account."
— George Gallup, Jr.

"This important work should be required reading."
— Publisher's Weekly, Starred Review

Surveying the Religious Landscape

Trends in U.S. Beliefs

D. Michael Lindsay

In America in the 1950s churches and synagogues were full and growing. "In God We Trust" became the national motto. Since that time, attendance at houses of worship has dropped significantly, but increasingly in the 1990s religion and spirituality play an important part of our national life. Surveying the Religious Landscape, a collection of Gallup surveys, monitors these changes over the last fifty years of American life.

These surveys will appeal to those who track religion professionally, but they will also be of interest to clergy, church members, and others interested in the spiritual landscape of today. A wide variety of beliefs and practices are surveyed including: belief in God, attendance at church or synagogue, religious beliefs of today's teenagers, views about the interaction between politics and religion, life after death, questions of ethics, and others. Surveys address the differences in beliefs among those of various faith perspectives, races, age groups, genders, and those in varying geographic locations.

George Gallup, Jr. is the chairman of The George H. Gallup International Institute, co-chairman of The Gallup Organization, Inc., and Executive Director of the Princeton Religion Research Center. His other books include The Saints Among Us and Growing Up Scared in America. The Gallup Organization is located in Princeton, New Jersey.

Morehouse Publishing (1 Nov 1999)

The Gallup Guide

Reality Check for 21st Century Churches

D. Michael Lindsay

What would draw the people of your surrounding community into your church? Want to know about the kind of fund-raising that would work best for your church? How does your church compare to others around the nation? With a number of sample surveys and clear, easy-to-understand instructions on how to conduct quality research, you have all the tools you need to find these answers and more for your church!

Gallup Organization (Jun 2002)


Michael tailors each presentation to the needs of his audience and is not limited to the topics we have listed below. These are subjects that have proven valuable to customers in the past and are meant only to suggest his range and interests. Please ask us about any subject that interests you; we are sure that we can accommodate you.


Faith in the Halls of Power


A college conference:
Home run! Your remarks really set us up for a successful conference. We were fascinated by your research, and . . . the small group after your session was full of great discussion. I could have listened for hours about your research findings, and I hope to hear more when we get you again. Dr. [...] wants our entire faculty to hear you speak. You are obviously an exceptional scholar and researcher.

A regional school association:
Michael was a home run! I would be happy to serve as a most positive reference for him.

George Gallup, Jr.,
Founding Chairman, The George H Gallup International Institute:

Michael and I have shared the podium many times, and I'm always impressed. He speaks on important substantive topics with grace and authority. He blends funny and inspiring stories with solid information.Audiences are captivated with his presentation style. He's engaging, warm, and confident. And he's as good as they come at connecting with groups, from intimate briefings to very large events.

A religious publisher’s association:
We were thrilled to have Michael and look forward to working with him again.

Michael Lindsay has addressed our members at two different events, one for CEO's and the other for practioners in every discipline of publishing. Regardless of the level of the audience, Michael delivered content that was extremely well researched, relevant, compelling, and actionable--not to mention very well received! He is brilliant but humble, complex but accessible, spiritual but practical, and above all he brings a servant's heart to everything he does. There is no one I could recommend more highly than Michael Lindsay.

A southern university:
We have had Dr. Lindsay on our campus several times, and he is just great.

Michael did a fantastic job speaking before multiple groups on our campus-the students loved him, he inspired our faculty, and friends of the university were impressed by his wide-ranging knowledge and heartfelt connection with the audience. He's so well received that we've had him to campus multiple times-he's superb.


— Christianity Today
— The Huffington Post