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Lincoln on Leadership: Executive Strategies for Tough Times
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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.

Customer Reviews:

  • Solid Leadership History of Lincoln During the Civil War
    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!

    One of the chapters that meant a lot to me personally focused on how Lincoln handled unjust criticism. He often ignored it, but other times he challenged it when it was harmful to the nation not to. The abuse heaped on Lincoln and his wife make today's TV headlines about politicians seem like nursery rhymes by comparison. We can all benefit from thinking about his experiences and how he handled them in this regard.

    The book's main weakness is that it makes Lincoln a little too perfect. He had a lot of weaknesses, as we all do. For example, I think a good case could be made for him not being a good judge of people considering the bad results he got from so many generals until he linked up with Grant.

    Anyone with an interest in Lincoln will like this book. If you also find leadership lessons you can use, that's a wonderful bonus!

    Be sure to banish you stalled thinking about the need to communicate thoroughly and often. This book is a great stallbuster in that area.

    ...more info

  • Leadership Review
    This book provides insight into Lincoln's approach to leadership, as well as a look into the man himself. I have always been interested in Lincoln and his life, and this book has provided an open door into a complex individual who led our country at an infectious time - anger, hatred, murder, bigotry.
    I appreciated the author's approach to Lincoln's leadership style, and the anecdotes that were included were helpful to understand Lincoln's insights into people and human nature. ...more info
  • Leadership for a Lifetime - Values and Faith
    Donald Phillips does an excellent job of bringing out Lincoln's leadership attributes in this book. In this book Abraham Lincoln demonstrates how a leader should act. This book shows how Lincoln exemplified leadership during war time and how true leader's base their decisions on values and faith....more info
  • Superb examples of leadership
    This book is on the Air Force Chief of Staff's reading list for Air Force officers. A very good book about Lincoln's leadership style and how this lawyer from Illinois became arguably the best president America has ever seen. He was an immaculate speaker who could speak to royalty one minute and then a blue collar worker the next. The book gives detailed anecdotes and was well researched. It gives a different view of other books because it cuts through the myth of "Honest Abe" and looks at what made him an effective leader. If you want to grow as a leader, whether in a military setting or the civilian sector, this book will help you become more effective in doing so by using Lincoln's superb example....more info
  • You'll feel better about your OWN abilities
    Lincoln only gets better and more impressive the more we know about him.

    Bear in mind that the author extrapolated much of the book from Lincoln's writings, speeches as well as 2nd and third person biographical references, but this shouldn't diminish the underlying themes.

    You'll find that you already practice many of Lincoln's techniques. Half way through the book you'll probably find yourself saying -- I'm doing many of these things already!

    For fans of Lincoln, this book adds to his already impressive resum¨¦. For those that are management-challenged, this book will give you cause for hope. For management whizzes, the book will be valuable for subordinates. You can't lose....more info

  • Lincoln on Leadership
    Donald T. Phillips' Lincoln on Leadership, provides both fascinating historical biographical insights into Abraham Lincoln, and also relevant and practical management and leadership "principles" that are as useful in today's business world as they were almost 150 years ago. The author has compiled an impressive body of research, quotations and folksy stories that serve as parables for how a person can provide truly great leadership. Leadership is examined through Lincoln's interactions, both oral and written, as an aspiring country attorney, senate candidate, and ultimately as president and commander-in-chief during the Civil War. "Lincoln Principles" appear at the end of each chapter that serve as practical tips that can be used by leaders at all levels. Each tip is brought to life in chapters that focus on the innate leadership traits that make Lincoln one of the greatest presidents in US history. Leadership attributes are categorized into four broad categories: People, character, endeavor, and communication. Within each category, Phillips provides several chapters that explore "modern management theory" that Lincoln mastered long ago. These include management by walking around, alliance building, use of persuasion, need for integrity in all dealings, and the power of a clear, well-communicated vision.

    I would recommend this book for any person who would like to be able to harness the basic tenants of leadership in understandable, everyday terms. It is the "common man" style of Lincoln that make these lessons so relevant. This is not ivory-tower, academic theory, but rather practical, real-life lessons that can be put into practice by leaders at all levels in any organization. ...more info
  • Bill Clinton's Political Bible
    It's been reported that Bill Clinton treated this book as his political Bible. But don't let that discourage you (this book was recommended to me by former Christian Coalition leader, Ralph Reed). Abraham Lincoln overcame much to become what most historians regard as our "greatest President." For me, the best part of this book was learning how he managed and motivated his generals to action. You can learn a lot from "Honest Abe."
    ...more info
  • like a starstruck child writing about his favorite superhero
    Alright...Abraham Lincoln was a wonderful man, but far from flawless. Unfortunately the author of this text seems to be so awestruck and starstruck with old Honest Abe that he sees every action, every movement, every flicker of Abe's eyelashes as all part of some divinely inspired, ultra-coordinated plan to inspire a nation and lead. Again, Lincoln is a hero and a great man, but he is a man, he had problems and he did make mistakes. This book just ignores all that and sees Lincoln only through very rose colored glasses....more info
  • History can be the best teacher.
    Lincoln on Leadership by Donald T. Phillips was an easy to read book. Teaching basics of leadership through 4 parts of the book; People, Character, Endeavor, and Communications. Then each part is broken into chapters with a trait of the 4 previous mentioned parts like: Get out of the office and circulate among the troops, build strong alliances, Honesty and Integrity are the best policy, lead by being led and master the art of public speaking to name some. All of these lessons are taught with President Lincoln as the vehicle and shows how he applied the lessons during the Civil War as President. Each chapter is summed up with a nice list of key points. A well organized book, with a message for everyone. Abraham Lincoln is an icon of American history and a great teacher and example of leadership to people today. All the lessons can be applied at work, home, family, or in our personal life. This is a great book for new leaders and even the experienced can use it as a reminder and reference. It will always have a place on my bookshelf. I encourage everyone to read it....more info
  • Good, light reading on leadership
    This book does a good job of detailing some of the skills needed to be a great leader: the importance of building friendships; when to ignore criticism and when to face it; and taking responsibility for decision-making. I also give Lincoln great credit for his superb use of stories and American mythology. He breathes American history, as best illustrated by this quotation: "I have never had a feeling politically that did not spring from the sentiments embodied in the Declaration of Independence." I do see some flaws in Lincoln's style though. Phillips gives Lincoln credit for almost never giving direct orders, but I don't see a thing in the world wrong with direct orders. After all, the fastest route between two points isn't always a curve. And the way Lincoln shuffled generals around seems downright counterproductive. Overall though, this is a good book and I'd recommend it to anyone....more info
  • Leadership in Trust
    Leadership is rare in management because it isn't understood. "Abraham Lincoln listened, paid attention and established trust." (p. 28) Good advice for leaders from one who knew is the center of the book. As well, there is a warning to managers who refuse to listen to their own people. There are many. Organizations fail due to bad leadership yet that attitude is not often fixed. Management rarely understands its own employees. Leadership is seen as intuitive, natural and automatic. It isn't. That skill is dictatorship and is not leadership. Persuasion not coercion is the way to delegation (i.e. trust). Other methods fail. The company fails. Eric J. Lindblom PhD Harvard...more info
  • Using Lincoln's words and actions to teach "Principles of Management" -- "A" for effort, "B" for content...
    Whenever I go to a library conference I always ask publisher's representatives "What's hot?" This year, especially among those who publish for the K-12 market, the answer, over and again, was "Abraham Lincoln, Barack Obama and George Washington." Indeed, interest in Lincoln is phenomenal -- for example, if you go to WorldCat and look for books about (as subject) Abraham Lincoln, you'll get 23,073 hits!

    While the author, Donald Phillips, is not a Ph.D.-level historian or business professor, he is a gifted writer who knows obviously has a keen eye for what will sell -- he wrote "Lincoln on Leadership" in 1993, "The Founding Fathers on Leadership" in 1998, and "Martin Luther King on Leadership" in 1999. The man obviously missed his calling as a management professor. Instead, after a corporate career working for companies such as Mobil, Tenneco, Consolidated Natural Gas, and Electronic Data Systems, and three terms as mayor of Fairview, Texas (pop. 9,000), he has - in addition to writing his own books - become a public speaker for hire and successful ghost writer (for athletes and celebrities such as Cal Ripken, Jr., Greg Norman, Mike Krzyzewski, Admiral James M. Loy, Phil Mickelson, and Rudy Ruettiger).

    So, what's the bottom line on the book? I'd give it an "A" for effort, and a solid "B" for content. You can tell that Phillips has done his homework as there's lot's of good content that has been tied to a variety of basic "principles of management" content. And, it's presented in a fairly interesting manner with "Lincoln Principles" summaries at the end of most of the sections that break-up the narrative text.

    According to Phillips, if one wants to develop a leadership style based on observations and comments about Lincoln's style, you need to focus on the following:

    People: Get out of the office and circulate among the troops! Build strong alliances! And, always remember that it's better to try to persuade rather than coerce!

    Character: Remember that honesty and integrity are respected and rewarded! Never act out of vengeance or spite. Have the courage to handle unjust criticism. And, "Be a master of paradox" by offering your folks security while also encouraging risk-taking.

    Endeavor: Exercise a strong hand and be decisive! Lead by giving your subordinates the freedom to make decisions. Set goals and be results-oriented! Keep searching until you find your "Grant"! (Don't be afraid to go through and support a few generals until you find one that'll fight for you.) Encourage innovation!

    Communication: Master the art of public speaking. Influence people through conversation and storytelling, and "preach a vision" and continually reaffirm it.

    Using interesting anecdotes and examples from Lincoln's correspondence, speeches and comments about him from his contemporaries, Phillips lays a framework of a practical "principles of management" text using the words and actions of our nation's most respected presidents.

    Recommended for undergraduate academic and public library collections.

    R. Neil Scott
    Middle Tennessee State University
    ...more info
  • A New Appreciation for Lincoln
    After reading this book, I have developed an entirely new appreciation for Abraham Lincoln. While always believing him to be one of the greatest leaders of the country, I never really grasped why he was a great leader until now. Phillips does a superb job here of gleaning Lincoln's leadership principles from the many details available regarding the 16th president's life.

    I've now become an even greater fan of Lincoln, and plan to learn more about this man who was such an extraordinary American leader in such extraordinary difficult times. Through Lincoln's life in general and this title in particular, leaders of all varieties can find renewed insight and inspiration. ...more info
  • Leadership lessons by Abe Lincoln.
    This is a great book for those interested in business and history. Abe Lincoln was one of our greatest presidents, and he was a great leader. He had one goal in mind and that was a reunited United States. He kept that in mind when he selected cabinet members, generals, and his decisions. He managed by walking around, keeping talented people employed in his administration, and focusing on the goal. Unfortunately he died after he attained the goal.

    This is a nice book about leadership style. It is not just applicable to the historian but also business people. Many people can learn from our 16th President. Simple strategies for great success....more info
  • Lincoln as a Bodhisattva
    Yes, that's appropriate. Abraham Lincoln's presidency could have so easily been consumed by the darkness in which it took shape, but Lincoln's wisdom, charm, intelligence, luck and great good heart saved it and the country, too.

    The brilliance of Donald T. Phillips is to consider our sixteenth president through the mostly successful application of his interpersonal skills. So many key people close to Lincoln were not really friendly to him or his vision, but somehow he managed to get them to work together and achieve unlikely, better than hoped for results. His great gift (and the great gift of any successful leader)? Lincoln was a superb listener. He also had the ability to wait people out, outlast them when he had to, disarm them with honesty, and separate himself from the conflicting chatter all around him. Surely he possessed an extraordinary inner calm. Phillips is absolutely right to cast Lincoln as a powerful mentor for aspiring executives and administrators in any field.

    Those having trouble with their bosses might consider making this a gift next Christmas. I once worked for a high school principal, Mark Greif, who had the worst people skills I'd ever encountered. He bullied, manipulated, and harrassed members of his staff and the student body, too. But a devoted couple of months in these pages would rehabilitate even him. If it can work there, it can work anywhere. This book should also be required reading for any politician and business student. But, of course, these lessons are life lessons, too. We can all be better listeners, co-workers, mates and friends. Lincoln in this book teaches us skills that improve our performance, our balance. To be Lincolnesque is to be more graceful, compassionate and just. A fabulous book!

    --Robert McDowell, author of the forthcoming Poetry and Spiritual Practice...more info
  • Lincoln on Leadership: A Fantastic and Helpful Read
    Donald T. Phillips did a terrific job with this book and provided valuable insight into the excellent executive leadership of President Lincoln. Virtually every American learns about Abraham Lincoln throughout his/her childhood, but specific situations and conversations are rarely provided as examples. Fortunately, Phillips provides these examples and proves that Lincoln was definitely one of the best presidents in United States history.
    As a student in college who is majoring in communications, I believe that the book is also very applicable to situations in people's lives today. Although most people do not become president, they do encounter various situations in which they are asked to lead other people or follow the direction of another person. After reading this book, a person can easily understand the traits and qualities necessary for quality leadership and can therefore implement them into everyday situations in the real world. In addition to this possibility, people may also be able to evaluate the prospective leadership qualities of a superior authority and determine the legitimacy of their direction.
    I especially enjoyed the chapter regarding President Lincoln's integrity that never allowed him to act out of spite or vengeance. Many people in charge of companies, organizations, or any other types of groups are often vindictive or downright nasty. Consequently, the followers in these groups do not respond positively and commonly perform at a lower level. Lincoln understood this reality completely and made sure to treat virtually all people sincerely and respectfully. Moreover, Lincoln also comprehended that partaking in spiteful encounters with people only hindered achievement of positive goals. As Phillips stated at the outset of the chapter, "Lincoln understood that to actively engage in slander and malicious dealings would simply eat up far too much of his time, which he used in securing positive end results than negative ones." Similar insights are present throughout this chapter, and readers should definitely take this useful information and apply it to their lives.
    An additional chapter that proved to be very helpful in improving my leadership abilities was the ninth chapter, entitled "Lead by Being Led." Too many authority figures in the world today believe that they are all-knowing and more intelligent than everyone else, no matter what the particular issue proves to be. President Lincoln, however, recognized that many of his cabinet members and employees were very intelligent people who often knew more about particular issues than he did. In fact, Phillips described several situations in which Lincoln trusted in some of his employees so much so that he signed various documents without ever reading them because he trusted their judgment so much. By shedding light on this common leadership flaw, Phillips made me realize that President Bush should read this book and learn to trust the judgment of others, rather than to dismiss advice that he does not agree with.
    Ultimately, Lincoln on Leadership was a very educational and entertaining read. Phillips' specific details and examples proved Abraham Lincoln's exceptional leadership qualities. My expectations heading into the book were not very high because I do not even enjoy historical books, but this work turned out to be a very pleasant surprise. I will definitely take several pages out of Lincoln's proverbial leadership book in future situations and my life, and I'm positive that it will be to my benefit.
    ...more info
  • Extremely interesting read
    I found the book to be very interesting, particularly the author's descriptions of how Lincoln worked with his subordinates (and treated people generally) and how he was absolutely "bashed" by the pundits of his day. ...more info
  • Exellcenet on leadership!
    I found the book to be very well written and laid out. Not only were examples of Lincolns leadership given but, it also highlighted some key principles at the end of each chapter for all to follow. Great read with examples and principles Lincolns used....more info
  • Lincoln on Leadership
    This book is a very organized and concise tool for improving leadership methodology. By studying the example of one of our greatest presidents, Abraham Lincoln, we can learn many valuable lessons that are applicable to today's world....more info
  • An interesting and helpful read!
    Before my review, let's have a quick reference of it per chapters/principles delivered by the author.

    1. Get out of the office and circulate among the troops
    2. Build strong alliances
    3. Persuade rather than coerce
    4. Honesty and integrity are the best policies
    5. Never act out of vengeance or spite
    6. Have the courage to handle unjust criticism
    7. Be a master of paradox
    8. Exercise a strong hand - be decisive
    9. Lead by being led
    10. Set goals and be results oriented
    11. Keep searching until you find your "Grant"
    12. Encourage innovation
    13. Master the art of public speaking
    14. Influence people through conversation and storytelling
    15. Preach a vision and continually reaffirm it

    Simple and common as found in many other leadership or management books, huh? Definitely! However, the beauty of it comes from the author's excellent story telling and writing skill, that Lincoln's biography had been intermingled vividly and interestingly with leadership axioms extracted by the author. For sure it's much easier to bear in mind the learnings from a real person, recall them and put them into practice. A good and helpful read, I must say. Dont miss it!

    p.s. The chart No. of days per month on pg 23 demonstrating Lincoln's practice of MBWA (management by walking around) during the course of his presidency is really unique and impressive. ...more info
  • Pres. Bush should have read this book!
    In a time of deep division between North and South as well as devision within both political parties, President Lincoln's success in holding the country together is most attributable to his humility and ability to appeal to man's better nature. It gave a minority president a landslide victory for his second term.
    Though a skillful and shrewd politician he put country ahead of politics. Sadly the current administration has put politics and worse, ideology, ahead of country. We are more divided as a country than ever. Winning the 2004 election rquired the appeal to man's baser nature and fears.
    There is a used copy of LINCOLN ON LEADERSHIP available on that is signed by the author and given to Pres. Bush. It is too bad that the presicent did not read and heed this book! ...more info
  • Inspiration and education!!
    This book was an excellent book. It opened my eyes to the "personal" Lincoln as opposed to the purely historic figure. The author devotes each chapter to a specific strategy of leadership. Donald Phillips writes about the use of these strategies using actual examples of how Lincoln handled his responsibility during tumultuous times. The ideas and methods are clearly explained and the results that Lincoln obtained were inspiring. While this book seems aimed at executive leadership, I do not believe that this can only be applied in the business world. Leadership is critical in families, school, volunteer groups as well as in the professional world. Lincoln On Leadership is a true source of inspiration and education for anyone in any leadership position from parenting to CEO's....more info
  • I work for a man who follows this book...
    I've worked as an employee, shift leader, and now a manager under many different general managers. After I had been a manager for 3 months, my most recent (and still current) GM loaned me this book. It's a quick read, and offers many interesting facts about Lincoln's interactions with many of his generals and other commanding officer. I can see all of the qualities and attitudes I read about in my GM, and our theater is the best in town. If you don't mind "lowering yourself" to walk among your subordinates, then this book is for you. It also provides examples of Lincoln's attitude toward his officers, and how he worked with them, no matter their feelings of him, or his feelings of them. What I gathered from the book is that no man is above any task or person, no matter how much he paid for his suit. If Lincoln can be shot at on the battle field, managers and bosses can do the menial "everyday" tasks of their employees!...more info
  • Detailed insights into the life of a great man and leader
    I had bought this book along with a number of others, and it is my nature to read more than one book at a time. This book however was not put down until finished and no other book shared my reading time during that period. Enjoy it and learn from the life of one of the greatest leaders the world has known. The writing style makes you feel that you are actually there during the civil war, contemplating with Abe how to handle a particular situation....more info
  • Lincoln on Leadership - A Clear Vision for All Times
    This is an excellent book. Not only are the lessons outlined clearly and supported by solid examples. You learn much about what Lincoln had to deal with in his life and the multitude of challenges he faced once in the office of President of the United States.

    The book is a quick read with chunks that can easily be digested. Mr. Phillips provides a nice format for both learning and understanding. This is a must read if you want to learn valuable lessons and tactics for leading or if you are just a fan of this great President....more info
  • Lincoln - More than just an honest man!
    Unlike some of the other reviewers, I didn't find this book to be a fast read - mainly because I often stopped while reading to relate the author's points to my own experiences. I also found myself wanting to reread some portions to fully grasp the ideas. Anyone who wants to improve their leadership skills should not only read this book but should also mark it up and underline key points and refer back to them periodically! I clearly came away with a much deeper respect for our 16th president....more info
  • Lincoln on Leadership
    Great book! I had no idea what a great leader Lincoln was and what an impact he had on our society. The book was an extremely good read and has a tremedous amount of wisdom to offer all of us. I recommend this book highly to anyone. ...more info