Leadership Ideas, Information and News

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Lincoln on Leadership: Executive Strategies for Tough Times

According to the book description of Lincoln on Leadership: Executive Strategies for Tough Times, “With its emphasis on the rights and power of the individual, Lincoln on Leadership is destined to become the must-have handbook for executives in the nineties.  Donald T. Phillips is the bestselling author of eighteen books, including Lincoln on Leadership and On the Wing of Speed. He has also collaborated on books with Mike Krzyzewski (Coach K of Duke University), Phil Mickelson, and Cal Ripken, Jr.”

One reader of Lincoln on Leadership: Executive Strategies for Tough Times said, “This book purports to be about business leadership, and if you find it helpful for that purpose, good for you. The author clearly did. The genesis of this book project was an epiphany for the author while taking a management seminar and reading a history of Lincoln during the war years. He realized that the principles in the seminar were all ones that Lincoln employed.

Each chapter explores one broad principle, and then lists subprinciples at the end of the chapter. These subprinciples will feel like leadership or management axioms to most. Few of the chapters have any reference to the management literature or to modern day management situations.

But I found that okay. Whenever I read about Lincoln, I notice things about his leadership and management style that interest me, but I have never seen a book that focused on that element until this one. I thought it was useful to have a history that emphasizes just that slant. I think you will, too, unless Lincoln is someone you don't care for.

The first chapter was especially interesting to me, because it talked about Lincoln's inclination to visit the scene and find out what was going on. There's a very interesting chart that shows how many days a month he was traveling during the war. The author makes a connection to Management by Wandering Around from In Search of Excellence that works.

Everyone will have their favorite part of the book. The sections are divided into things about people, character, endeavor, and communication. I found the communications sections to be unusually good. As outstanding as Lincoln was in many areas, he was probably a better communicator than just about anything else. There is a chapter on public speaking, another on influencing people through storytelling, and one on getting your vision across. These are as timely today as they were in Lincoln's day.

I think that this is the significant aspect of the book for us today: What was important then, that we still resonate to as important today? Whatever themes strike you that way are probably telling you something very fundamental about people and human organizations. Pay attention!”

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