‘Team of Rivals’ — Call #2 Questions

Dear book group member,

Our next  “Team of Rivals” call is on July 11th, in just less than a two weeks.

Call #2
Wednesday, July 11th
8pm new york time
Dial-in #: 1-800-615-2900 (Toll Free in USA and Canada)
(International: 1-661-705-2005)
pass code: 8672665

Below are three questions to guide your reading.

I hope you all have a great 4th of July!


Questions for Call # 2
Chapters 6 -11 (pages 170-319)

1. Lincoln demonstrated a political ability to make choices which did not have immediate results, but which brought him larger successes in the future. Although it caused him personal disappointment, his sacrifice in the 1855 senate nomination was not only beneficial to the anti-slavery cause, but also to his future political career. Unlike his rivals Seward and Chase, who “would lose friends in victory… Lincoln, in defeat, gained friends,” friends that would, years later, help him to secure the presidential nomination. [172]  With similar attention to timing, in 1859, Lincoln was “careful to conceal his ambitions,” not only withholding his intention to run for the nomination, but also demonstrating “well-modulated enthusiasm” for the other candidates. [211] These actions are steeped in a strong confidence in his own judgment, however was it that he had a superior capability to understand how future events would play out in his favor? Or a general sense that generous and gracious actions would reap future goodwill?

2. Lincoln’s speeches were his most powerful political tool. What qualities made them so effective and compelling, especially to the general public? Although Seward also delivered effective speeches, how did their styles differ? And how does this difference reflect their different childhoods, class identification and ultimately their ability to lead the nation through the civil war? How can these qualities, that made Lincoln’s speeches so successful, be utilized in the way we present ideas as business leaders?

3. After being elected president, Lincoln “began at once to feel that [he] needed support,” and quickly set to work creating the ideal cabinet, a cabinet composed of his rivals. [280] How did Lincoln’s approach to choosing his cabinet members differ from Buchanan’s cabinet and presidential cabinets today?  It was reported that “Lincoln revealed a quick-witted ‘adaptation to individual characteristics and peculiarities,'” in what way did this skill aid him in creating the ideal combination within his cabinet? [280] Considering the historical context of the looming civil war and the newly formed, and still fractional, Republican party what were the benefits of Lincoln’s approach? Furthermore how can we learn from Lincoln’s approach when assembling and managing our own teams today?

Chapter Breakdown:

Call #1: 6/13
Chapters 1-5 (pages 1-169) 169 pages total

Call # 2: 7/11
Chapters 6 -11 (pages 170-319) 149 pages total

Call # 3: 8/8
Chapters 12-15 (pages 321-423) 102 pages total

Call # 4: 9/19
Chapters 16-19 (pages 425-521) 96 pages total

Call # 5: 10/24
Chapters 20-22 (pages 522-596) 74 pages total
Also please read Pericles’ Funeral Oration from “Thucydides,” about 7 pages total
The text can be found at: http://tinyurl.com/3k8ox
Wikipedia entry: http://tinyurl.com/38mhax

Call # 6: 11/14
Chapters 23-26 (pages 597-749) 152 pages total

Meta Questions:

Lincoln’s leadership style can be described as a managed tension between collaboration and sticking to his guns on key principals and decisions. What can we learn from this balance that can be applied today as managers attempt to bring change to their organizations? What are the lessons and stories from Lincoln that give us ideas on how to work differently?

Does lincoln have an ego? if yes, how does he manage it? would it be relevant to say that he subverted his short-term ego in order to serve his long-term ego? If so what can we learn from him in the day-to-day management of our own egos?

Lincoln was the original council member – i.e. he knew how to ask for help not only from peers, but from rivals. Not only did he build a “team of rivals,” but he also knew how to ask from help from the great books, history and from his customers, the citizens, especially the common citizens of the then-still-young republic. As council members what can you learn from Lincoln that can help you develop as leaders and improve your own “asking for help discipline?”

29. June 2007 by Arrian
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