Leadership Lessons from the Great Emancipator

abraham-lincolnLast fall during the Developing History Leaders @SHA Class of 2012, there was much buzz in the history and museum community about Spielberg’s Lincoln.

And for many reasons, nowhere was this particularly evident than in Indianapolis at SHA. It was certainly because of connections members of the class had with the Lincoln story: one seminarian came from the Kentucky Historical Society, an institution that provided sound effects for the movie and another from President Lincoln’s Cottage. And, of course, Indiana claims Lincoln as its own.

But the upcoming movie also generated enthusiasm/momentum among the SHA crowd because SHA is where us history geeks convene for three weeks to learn about our craft. And within the curriculum, SHA works to develop leaders for our field.

So when I came across this article referencing Lincoln’s leadership in the New York Times, I thought it particularly apropos to the SHA.

From the intro:

What kind of a leader was Abraham Lincoln? This is a question that has bedeviled every student of Lincoln who has ever considered it, even today, 204 years after his birth. There is virtual consensus that Lincoln was an exemplary leader, but opinion differs on the lessons to be drawn from his leadership. Did he exert features of moral grandeur and heroism necessary to steer the country through its deepest political crisis? Or was he an aspiring tyrant, especially in his use of executive power? Full article here

As you read this, think about your own leadership style. And adapt/relate your circumstances and opportunities to Lincoln’s. No, you’re probably not facing the constitutional crises Honest Abe faced, but you might learn something from how Lincoln managed the doctrine of constitutional self restraint. As Stephen B. Smith wrote in his essay, “It is in this possibility of a leader operating within the limits of constitutional restraint that the hope of our republic rests.”

How do you see your own leadership in these principles?


Posted on February 20, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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