Easy chair — From the February 2013 issue
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To begin with, the book perfectly captures the beloved fatuities of our white-collar priesthood. The appeal of Team of Rivals to this corporate demographic is built into its very architecture: after Goodwin relates some familiar Civil War anecdote, she invariably ties it to Lincoln’s style of personnel management — this being the true manifestation of his genius. And to every vexing human-relations question, Team of Rivals gives a pat answer. How, for example, does one ride herd over a group of difficult, contentious, even creative people? Goodwin’s Lincoln offers the following counsel: Listen more and blame less. Also: Be sure to relax now and then. Also: Don’t hold grudges.
“Lincoln’s Leadership Lessons” was the headline that Forbes chose for a 2006 interview with Goodwin. When Harvard Business Review spoke to her in 2009, they called their article “Leadership Lessons from Abraham Lincoln”; Fast Company’s take on the book was headlined “The Leadership Genius of Abraham Lincoln.” Goodwin herself is more original. When she spoke at the annual convention of the Society for Human Resource Management in 2008, she called her talk “HR Success Through [the] Lens of Lincoln.”
I’m sorry I missed that presentation; it must have been enlightening. I suspect this because Inc. magazine has listed Team of Rivals as one of the “Best Leadership Books of All Time.” Donald Trump, in his 2009 magnum opus Think Like a Champion, includes it in his own recommended-reading list, as does superconsultant Jim Collins. In truth, however, this last, vast piece of critical acclaim shouldn’t surprise anybody: as a blogger for the ManpowerGroup, “a world leader in workforce solutions,” pointed out, “Lincoln personified the Level Five Leader immortalized in Jim Collins’ Good to Great.”
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