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Ref-Abraham Lincoln, as Management Guru

Ref-Abraham Lincoln, as Management Guru

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Published by phannarith
Ref-Abraham Lincoln, as Management Guru
Ref-Abraham Lincoln, as Management Guru

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Published by: phannarith on Feb 03, 2013
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2/3/13 Abraham Lincoln, as Management Guru - NYTimes.comwww.nytimes.com/2013/01/27/business/abraham-lincoln-as-management-guru.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20130127&_r=1&pagewanted=all&&… 1/6
January 26, 2013
Lincoln’s School of Management
The legacy of Abraham Lincoln hangs over every American president. To free a people, topreserve the Union, “to bind up the nation’s wounds”: Lincoln’s presidency, at a moment of great moral passion in the country’s history, is a study in high-caliber leadership.In this season of all things Lincoln — when Steven Spielberg is probably counting hisOscars already — executives, entrepreneurs and other business types might considerdusting off their history books and taking a close look at what might be called the Lincolnschool of management.Even before “Lincoln” the movie came along, there was a certain cult of leadershipsurrounding the 16th president. C.E.O.'s and lesser business lights have long soughtinspiration from his life and work. But today, as President Obama embarks on a new termand business leaders struggle to keep pace with a rapidly changing global economy, thelessons of Lincoln seem as fresh as ever. They demonstrate the importance of resilience,forbearance, emotional intelligence, thoughtful listening and the consideration of all sidesof an argument. They also show the value of staying true to a larger mission.“Lincoln’s presidency is a big, well-lit classroom for business leaders seeking to buildsuccessful, enduring organizations,” Howard Schultz, chief executive of Starbucks, said inan e-mail. Lincoln, he said, “always looked upward and always called American citizens to ahigher road and to a purpose bigger than themselves. He did this by listening carefully tothose both inside and outside of his immediate circle and sphere of influence. Listening,always being present and authenticity are essential leadership qualities whether one isleading a country in wartime or a company during a period of transformation.” As a historian at Harvard Business School, I have been a student of Lincoln for more than adecade. I have written a case study and several articles about his presidency and talkedextensively about him to business executives and entrepreneurs. The film “Lincoln,” whichfollows his efforts to ensure the passage of the 13th Amendment, making slavery unconstitutional, offers ample evidence of his ability to lead. But to me, his earlierexperience in drafting and issuing the Emancipation Proclamation offers one of the best ways to appreciate his strengths as a leader.Before and after he signed the proclamation, 150 years ago this month, Lincoln confronteda string of military setbacks, intense political opposition and his own depression and self-doubts. In the summer of 1862, Confederate forces under Robert E. Lee attacked
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2/3/13 Abraham Lincoln, as Management Guru - NYTimes.comwww.nytimes.com/2013/01/27/business/abraham-lincoln-as-management-guru.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20130127&_r=1&pagewanted=all&&… 2/6
“repeatedly, relentlessly, with a courage bordering on recklessness,as the historian JamesM. McPherson has written. Union supporters realized that the Civil War — originally envisioned as a short, swift conflict — would be much longer and bloodier than imagined.Northern newspapers and politicians assailed the administration for incompetence. Thenumber of Union Army volunteers dwindled. Abolitionists, who since the war’s start hadurged Lincoln to move aggressively against slavery, grew increasingly frustrated. All of this bore down on the president. When he learned that George B. McClellan,commander of the Army of the Potomac, had retreated after a series of conflicts known asthe Seven Days’ Battles, Lincoln described himself “as nearly inconsolable as I could be andlive.” And, personally, the death of his 11-year-old son, Willie, five months earlier still weighed heavily on both the president and his wife. Yet despite all of his mental suffering, Lincoln never gave way to his darkest fears. Hisresilience and commitment to preserve the Union helped sustain him.The ability to experience negative emotions without falling through the floorboards is vitalto entrepreneurs and business leaders. Ari Bloom, a strategic adviser to consumer-relatedcompanies and a former student of mine, put it this way: “Nothing prepares you for theemotional ups and downs that come with starting a business. There
 be obstacles, bigand small, that come at you every day, from personnel issues to supplier delays, to latepayments or even hurricanes.” Throughout, entrepreneurs must maintain theirprofessional composure while staying true to their vision and their integrity, he said.“Lincoln is striking because he did all this under extremely difficult circumstances,” Mr.Bloom said. “Some of his ability to navigate such difficult terrain was about emotionalintelligence and the deep faith he nurtured about his vision. But some of it was also abouthow he gathered advice and information from a wide range of people, including those whodid not agree with him. This is important in building a business because you have to listento customers, employees, suppliers and investors, including those who are critical of what you are doing.”Lincoln had long opposed the expansion of slavery, declaring it wrong, morally andpolitically, because it violated the rights of all people to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness set forth in the Declaration of Independence. But he had also made it clear thatpreserving the Union was more important than trying to abolish slavery head on.In the early summer of 1862, events conspired to change his perspective. There wasMcClellan’s humiliating retreat, the mounting overall toll of the war and growing supportin the North for attacking slavery. His earlier concerns were overridden by exigency.“Things had gone on from bad to worse,” Lincoln recalled later, “until I felt that we had
2/3/13 Abraham Lincoln, as Management Guru - NYTimes.comwww.nytimes.com/2013/01/27/business/abraham-lincoln-as-management-guru.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20130127&_r=1&pagewanted=all&&… 3/6
reached the end of our rope on the plan of operations we had been pursuing; that we hadabout played our last card, and must change our tactics, or lose the game!”Lincoln’s ability to shift gears during hard times — without giving up his ultimate goal — isa vital lesson for leaders operating in today’s turbulence. When I teach the case, many executives comment on the importance of shaping one’s tactics to changing circumstances.Sometime in late June or early July of 1862, Lincoln began drafting what would become theEmancipation Proclamation. On July 22, he told his full cabinet that he had “resolved uponthis step, and had not called them together to ask their advice,” but rather “to lay thesubject matter of a proclamation before them.” He had decided that, as of Jan. 1, 1863, allpeople held as slaves in states in rebellion against the United States government would bedeclared forever free.Lincoln had always been a slow, deliberate thinker, examining an issue from all sides. Thecabinet was divided over the proclamation, but at this point he was unlikely to bedissuaded. Nevertheless, when Secretary of State William H. Seward suggested that thepresident wait for a Union victory before issuing the proclamation, lest it seem “the lastmeasure of an exhausted government, a cry for help,” Lincoln agreed.In mid-September 1862, after a bloody  victory at Antietamin which more than 20,000Union and Confederate soldiers were killed or wounded, Lincoln made the EmancipationProclamation public. Practically, it would free none of the almost four million slaves heldin the Confederacy, where it could not be enforced; it made no claims to liberate slavesheld in the border states that were not in rebellion against the United States. And it did notfree slaves held in certain parts of the Confederacy occupied by Union forces.But as Lincoln understood, the proclamation was a radical act. In declaring certain slavesfree as an act of military necessity, it transformed the meaning and stakes of the Civil War. What started as a conflict to save the Union as it had existed since the 1787 ConstitutionalConvention had become a contest to save a new, different kind of United States — one in which slavery was permanently abolished. Americans reacted strongly to the proclamation. Abolitionists greeted it with acclaim, butmany in Lincoln’s own party called it unconstitutional. Union Democrats condemned it; theDemocratic-leaning New York World said Lincoln was “adrift on a current of radicalfanaticism.”In the South, President Jefferson Davis of the Confederacy called the proclamation aneffort to incite servile insurrection, saying it supplied additional reasons for theConfederacy to fight for its independence. Foreign response was also critical, partly  because the proclamation posed a potential threat to cotton supplies. That November, theeffects of the Emancipation Proclamation, the war’s huge casualties and the government’s

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