61 of 68 people found the following review helpful
Master politician and “very near being a perfect man”,
This review is from: Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln (Hardcover)
Frankly, until reading this book, I did not fully understand the nature and extent of the circumstances in which Lincoln included in his cabinet those who, prior to his election, were his major political opponents and who, in addition, viewed him with contempt. Specifically, Salmon P. Chase, Edward Bates, William H. Seward, and Edwin M. Stanton. He then worked effectively with each throughout the Civil War. Even more remarkable is the fact that, by the time of Lincoln’s assassination, each of these four had grown to love as well as respect someone whom Stanton had once described as a "long armed Ape."
Senior-level executives can learn a number of important lessons in leadership by reading this book. They include:
1. Surround yourself with whatever talent the given enterprise requires.
2. Welcome, indeed strongly encourage principled dissent.
3. Timing is not everything but often the difference between success and failure.
4. Exercise selective hearing during a contentious group discussion.
5. Unless absolutely certain, be willing to grant benefit of the doubt.
6. Exhaust opponents by listening to them.
7. Appreciate effort but only reward performance.
8. Serve “with malice toward none, with charity for all”
9. And lead “with firmness in the right.”
10. When dealing with forceful personalities, focus on common interests.
As Kearns quite correctly asserts, only a “political genius” could have assembled and then worked effectively with cabinet members such as Chase, Bates, Seward, and Stanton, all of whom were independent thinkers, had personal agendas, and (at least initially) considered themselves super to Lincoln in all respects. With all due respect to Lincoln’s leadership and management skills, however, it should also be noted that Bates eventually described Lincoln as "very near being a perfect man." His inherent decency and impeccable integrity informed and guided his leadership and management as president.
As I read Kearns’s book, I realized that only by preserving the unity of his diverse cabinet could Lincoln have preserved the Union. Had he been able to complete his second term, his “political genius” would have enabled him to fulfill hopes he expressed in his second Inaugural Address: “to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”
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Initial post: 19 Dec 2008 17:23:23 GMT
A Reader says:
These comments are interesting, but don't give any insight into the style and readability of the book........
In reply to an earlier post on 8 May 2014 13:33:56 BDT
Legal Vampire says:
'A Reader', yes, but I do not have a problem with that. There are already more than a hundred other reviews posted here, some of which do address these points, so perhaps we should welcome reviews that give a particular angle without attempting to be an essay on everything there is to say about this book.
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