Let’s examine our leadership ideals

by Jack Warren

The Every-day Life of Abraham Lincoln is a book by Frances Fisher Browne that was written in the 1880’s. Consequently hundreds of the people cited and/or interviewed were contemporaries of Lincoln. There is a level of detail that is unmatched by most other Lincoln biographies.

At one point, Browne writes of Lincoln’s desire to serve a second presidential term, but not necessarily to “campaign” for it. There were some real doubts as to whether he had enough support in his own party. In fact, those in the Northeast were particularly disenchanted with Lincoln. They did not see him as a real leader. Their leadership ideal was Daniel Webster:

Even those who called the fallen statesman ‘Ichabod’could not forget his commanding presence, his lofty tone about affairs of state, his sonorous professions of an ideal, his whole ex cathedra attitude. All these characteristics supplied the aristocratic connotation of the word ‘leader.’Of the broad democratic meaning of the term, the world had as yet received no demonstration. That Lincoln was in very truth the ‘new birth of a new soil,’Lowell, with the advantage of literary detachment, was one of the first to discover and proclaim, both in his political essays and in the splendid stanzas of the ‘Commemoration Ode.

As Browne points out, the world had not yet seen a leader quite like Lincoln.

In your team or organization, how do you go about identifying leaders? As pointed out in this space before, leaders aren’t so much selected as they are identified. Leaders come in all shapes and sizes – and in all temperaments and tones. When trying to develop or enhance a culture in your program, how adept are you at identifying those that might help you get where you want to go? Much as in my old days of factory and corporate work, the best leaders aren’t necessarily those that are the hardest workers, ablest craftsman, or shrewdest analysts.

Leadership skills are so much harder to quantify and identify. You can’t put a stop watch or radar gun on this task. What are you doing to develop your own sense of understanding in the area of leadership and culture? Assembling a group of effective leaders within your staff and team is critical. Make sure you make plan for it as surely as your plan for in-season practices.

Jack is available to speak to your team or organization or at your next function. He also provides individual and organizational coaching and consulting. You can get more information on these services at Jack’s professional services site, JackWWarren.com.

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