Beyond Servant Leadership

I fancy myself something of a business book nerd. I’ll spare you the list. Suffice to say that I see value in nearly every popular business book written.

But I have to admit that at this point, the pattern’s becoming clear. Many of the mantras are the same. Reframed, repackaged and resold.

I’m also a bit of a historical biography nut. Upon finishing Robert Caro’s series on LBJ, I moved on to Team of Rivals, Doris Kearns Goodwin’s brilliant biography on “The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.”

While the life and times of Abraham Lincoln is captivating on many levels, nothing inspired me more than learning about the man’s leadership genius. Perhaps America’s original ‘servant leader,’ Lincoln exhibited a rare combination of steely conviction and extreme humility; of steadfast resiliency and complete and utter compassion. For those unfamiliar with the details of Lincoln’s approach to assembling his cabinet, for instance, I offer this. He chose to elevate and surround himself with those who would (and did) seek to vilify and conspire against him. Those who not only campaigned and competed against him for the presidency, but who also embraced completely differing ideologies about the role of government.

Imagine holding the highest office in the land, in a nation poised for civil war. Now imagine choosing to surround yourself with your enemies, so that you can hear all perspectives necessary to make informed decisions.

That is but one example of Lincoln’s magnanimous and complex genius. He chose to do what was most difficult, in order to accomplish what was most just. Countless details of his selfless humanity are observed throughout this extraordinary book. And no one who aspires to great leadership should miss the opportunity to read it.