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Lincoln and King

Lincoln and King

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Published by: Jessica R. Dreistadt on Aug 31, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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SYNTHESIS PAPER #8: LINCOLN AND KING 1Synthesis Paper #8 Lincoln and KingJessica R. DreistadtLEAD 710 Historical Perspectives of Organizational LeadershipEastern UniversityNovember 19, 2010
SYNTHESIS PAPER #8: LINCOLN AND KING 2Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address and King's Washington Monument Address paint apicture of a more peaceful alternative future, one that can be realized through collective intentionand action, love and forgiveness, and steadfast commitment based on hope. Lincoln and Kinginspired dramatic social change by relentlessly following their faithful convictions; activatingand engaging the imagination of Americans during times of conflict and ambiguity; risking, andultimately losing, their lives; and acting as loving servants and advocates for people who wereoppressed. Lincoln and King used symbolism to inspire people to make change within thepolitical structure; thus, they effectively operated within the context of all four frames describedby Bolman and Deal. The symbolic frame drove the process in these speeches; therefore, thatperspective will be emphasized. Lincoln and King were both charismatic, transformationalleaders who inspired individual and political change that impacted the economic, social, andcultural climate of America both during and after their lives.The symbolic f 
rame is often effective during times of turmoil. “When people are in pain,
when they are confused and uncertain, or when they feel despair and hopelessness, they
desperately seek meaning and hope” (Bolman and Deal, 2008, pp. 369). Lincoln and King
fulfilled this social yearning through the Second Inaugural and Washington MonumentAddresses. These speeches brilliantly articulated a vision of the future to which people whosought to dismantle oppression could connect and aspire. Dr. King, in particular, used beautifullyconstructed language to impart a sense of possibility. His speech was speckled with metaphors,
which can be used by leaders to “compress complicated issues into understandable images,influencing our attitudes and actions” (Bolman and Deal, pp.
268). Both King and Lincoln weresolidly rooted in their faith; integrating spirituality into their proclamations provided another
SYNTHESIS PAPER #8: LINCOLN AND KING 3avenue for connection and an opportunity to build upon a pre-existing shared vision.
Transformational leaders “attempt to
aise the consciousness in individuals and to getthem to transcend their own self-
interests for the sake of others” (Northouse, 2009, pp. 185).
Lincoln and King understood that the realization of their radical vision would not be possiblewithout deeply felt commitment and sacrifice. They served as examples by espousingfaithfulness and dedication to the cause. Lincoln and King also realized that this was not enough;they also had to be charismatic in order to unite and ignite the populace. Charismatic leaders tend
to “articulate ideological goals that have moral overtones” (Northouse, pp. 174). Lincoln and
King connected their Christian faith to their vision and goals; their religion served as a moralbasis for their actions. Yet, their words have a universal appeal; the intensity of their impact isnot exclusive to Christian believers. Their ability to bring people together, despite differences inreligion and other matters, was one of the factors of their success.Lincoln and King both acknowledged the past and pointed toward a better future.Although their visions were holistic, they realized that individuals could take specific actions,and make specific changes,
as a step toward their dream. Both emphasized the need forthose actions to be based
on love rather than revenge: “with malice toward none; with charity for all” (Lincoln, 1865). King echoed Lincoln's sentiment; “let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred” (King, 1963). Lincoln and
ing weregentle in their approach to change yet powerful in their vision, commitment, and ability toengage and inspire others. The work they began is still underway in America and around theworld; modern social change leaders can learn to be more effective by following their exampleand connecting rather than dividing, loving rather than hating, and instilling hope rather than

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