Abraham Lincoln: Leadership at a glance



Born in log cabin.  Jeffersonian agrarianism.  Subsistence farming.  Little $$ in trade.

Abe wanted to read and to learn.  Took upon himself to do this.  Child labor essential.

Abe wanted a better life.  Subsistence farming unsatisfactory.

Constantly read.  Engaged in politics, courts, clubs, and social storytelling.

Self taught.  Mainly law.  Attended courts, read Constitution, Declaration of Independence, Indiana Revised Statutes.  Law books.

Personal experiences: labor, learning, slavery, infrastructure.

New Salem on his own.  Earned extreme reputation for honesty and reliability.

New Salem dwindles.  New opportunity in Springfield.

Losses: Mother Nancy, sister Sarah, cousins.


1832 runs for legislature.  1834 Assemblyman.  Meets Stephen A. Douglas.

1837 license to practice joins law partnership.

Continued to engage in debate societies, speeches, social interactions, anecdotist.

Travelled circuit.  Sharpened political skills.  Enhanced public reputation.  Met people, learned issues.  Common people interactions.  Persuasion skills.

Mary Todd.  Married, started to have children.

Became Whig leader.  More reputation.  Platform of banking, tariffs, economy, infrastructure, and progressive thinking.

Leadership and reputation gained national renown.  Douglas debates.  NY speeches.

RNC nomination.  Election to Presedency.


Morals and values.  Anti-slavery.  Whig vision.  Common people touch.

Held Republican factions together.  Abolitionists to Whigs, liberal Democrats.

Democracy.  Global thinking.  Transformational leadership.

Honesty.  Cultivated diversity, yet retained loyalty.

Domestic and international policy – laissez faire.  Delegating, supporting style.

Constitutional issues, military issues, major decisions – reserved to himself.  Directing style.

The Civil War.  Generals; McClellan, Hooker, Meade.  Coaching style.

People skill.  Patience, good will, intuitive, thinking.

Emancipation.  13th Amendment



Trait                                           “Honest Abe”  Very determined.

Skills                                           Conceptual, people HIGH.  Technical – LOW.

Style                                           Task and relationship – Civil War leader

Situational                                   Delegating, Supporting, Coaching, Directing

Delegated to his cabinet.  Coached his Generals

Contingency                                Leader-match.  Civil War leader.

Path-Goal                                   Achievement-oriented.

Leader-Member                          In-group with Generals.  Out-group by merit.

Transformational                         Visionary.  Raised motivation and morals.  Role


Team                                          Excellent monitor.  Collaborative climate.

Psychodynamic                           Archetype – Honest Abe.  Magician-leader.

Women                                       Diversity.  Herndon (boisterous, drinker).

Ethics                                         Altruistic.  Gave everything for country.  Justice.

Change efforts: Conclusion


People need to see and feel the need for change. Otherwise, complacency is hard to overcome. Because Ted’s company is stuck in the past and does not understand that economy of scale can lead to competitive advantage, Ted must show the company an actual customer problem. By integrating external stakeholders into the change process, Ted can show how the change initiative is directly related to sustainable competitive advantage.


Harari, O. (1999). Leading change from the middle. Management Review, 88(2), 29-32.

Kotter, J.P. (1996). Leading change. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

Kotter, J.P. & Cohen, D. (2002). The heart of change: Real-life stories of how people change their organizations. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

Nabokov, V. (1974.). In Lolita: A screenplay, foreward. In R. Andrews, M. Biggs, & M. Seidel, et al. (1996). The Columbia World of Quotations. Search by “complacency.” Number: 41109. Retrieved June 14 2004, from http://www.bartleby.com/66/9/41109.html

© Neal Huffman 2014 All rights reserved

Start the change this way

For example, Ted Watson hosts a brief meeting with the executive committee, the CEO, and the coalition. In the short meeting, Ted lets the customer explain that competitors have integrated systems to standardize methods. The competitor then uses this efficiency to create a competitive advantage. The competitor is approaching the customer with the value it can produce for the customer and asks the customer if their existing vendor can duplicate this. The customer then explains that the competitor is close to winning its business, with the direct result that Ted’s company loses a customer. Ted asks the customer if they will stay if this firm can change. The customer, wanting to maintain the relationship indicates they will stay. Finish by asking the customer if their story is unique or if this is a pattern developing. The customer indicates that other customers in the industry are leaning the same way in favor of the competitor.

After excusing the customer, meet again with the coalition. With the results of the customer meeting, logic dictates that the status quo will lead to churn of customers to competitors and ultimately extinction of the company. Insist on at least one business unit change effort, one unit that has direct ties to the customer that is going to leave. Bring the entire coalition to focus on the one business unit. Show the customer meeting story to the whole group. Win this business unit for change and then show all the other business units how one customer affected a change in the company that ensures a sustainable, successful company for the future. Reward the business unit that successfully adopted the change and make sure that the whole company sees the rewards aligned with the logical change effort.

© Neal Huffman 2014 All rights reserved

Raise the Urgency Level

Stakeholder Support Improves Change Efforts

The first place to start is with external stakeholders. Change must be supported by a visible need of clients and customers. Visit customer sites to listen and take notes about what is important to them. Explain how the business could save money and take feedback from shareholders. Tell customers that a change is being discussed that will save money for the company which can be dedicated to resources that improve customer relationships. Stakeholders are at least as important in approval as is senior management, maybe even more so.

In the February, 1999 issue of Management Review, Oren Harari describes eleven rules for leading change at the mid management level. The first principle Harari describes is “Let the customer drive your change process” (p. 29). By visiting customers and listening, a company gains valuable insight and strategic information. The economy and customers are always changing and successful businesses cannot ignore change and the customer’s needs.

Ensure Open Communication

After gathering critical stakeholder data and gaining their support for change, use the stakeholders as part of the change initiative. Since there is no immediate crisis, create visible and critical analogies linked to the enterprise in relation to its customers. For example, show the coalition and the workers how important it is to save money for the whole company in order to apply resources to solving customer needs. Can your business unit succeed if it is not directly addressing customer needs of which this change is an important part?

Show figures of the amount of money to be saved by implementing the change effort. Then show how the savings can be directly applied to resources that serve customers and improve relations. Show everyone that market share or margin improves by shifting resources to value chains ending at the customer.

Engage the CEO and the executive committee to state the vision of the change and ask for direct feedback. Open the communication to honest and clear factors of the change effort. After showing the critical needs of the stakeholders and how the money will be used to serve customers and keep competitors at bay, ask if anyone sees any negatives. If customers are not served by our company, then competitors will surely take them away.

Only after the channels of open and honest communication are open can the implementation really take place. Do not proceed from management approval to implementation. Involve the power coalition into every stage of implementation. Reinforce constant communication and feedback. (Kotter, 1996) Always stress the crisis that failure to take the leap will surely open the door to competitor insurgency.

Get the support of one customer and bring the customer together with one or two line managers from the coalition. Seek a small win with agreement on the change effort from this subgroup. Use the subgroup to gain greater scope of acceptance and build momentum to the entire coalition, and then finally the entire organization through empowerment.

© Neal Huffman 2014 All rights reserved

Complacency Fueled by Past Success

As Kotter explains in Leading Change, often a firm will develop a sense of well-being based on past successes. This leads people into complacency. Mr. Watson’s initiative was based on analysis and rational thinking. Sometimes, a crisis is needed to push complacency out of the way. Without a real or perceived crisis, complacency means that workers see no visible reason to change the status quo. (Kotter, 1996)

The current environment at this firm is culturally and structurally in a status quo resistant to change. Culturally, managers and workers seem to have narrow goals based on the functionality of their business unit and do not have enterprise goals based on what is good for the company. Structurally, the narrow functional group goals lead to resistance and complacency when the line managers and power coalition were not involved in the necessary team effort. Change was perceived as an annoyance and an obstacle to business unit success. (Kotter, 2002)

Moreover, because the culture and structure focused on the unit level, company-wide performance standards did not support urgency in support of change initiative. As the questions came into Ted Watson, the complacency shown in performance standards based on the goals of the business unit. Operations were centered on how efficient the status quo made the unit without an alignment of the change effort to the rewards and objectives of the entire organization. (Kotter, 2002)

While the organization, at least at the executive committee and CEO, approved of the new idea, nowhere did this story show an understanding of external stakeholders. What did the customers think? What did the suppliers think? The change effort had no direct ties to the marketplace and the values and needs of external clients.

© Neal Huffman 2014 All rights reserved

Possible sources of complacency

Possible Sources of Complacency

Lack of Common Urgency and No Power Coalition

The approval story points out the lack of urgency from the line managers and workers whom need to implement the new processes and new software the change agent desires for company improvement. Although Ted believes he has approval to move forward with this change, once underway he realizes that everyone else is not aligned with the change effort as necessary. The executive committee signals acceptance for the analyzed change. However, adequate buy in from other important people to facilitate the change has not occurred. Ted Watson is consumed by questions and rejections from employees who seem annoyed at the new change and its affects on them. A hierarchical or autocratic change is not the best way to initiate change. Because the actual people needed to get on board with the business idea where not formed into a working coalition to shepherd the change initiative, the idea is ground to a halt and must be started anew. One of the main problems in this scenario stems from the overestimation of the support for change and the underestimation of the resources and tools necessary to work the change. Once these deficiencies were realized, change manifested itself in high complacency among the business employees and by their rejection of change. (Kotter, 2002)

)  ©  Neal Huffman 2014

Complacency Problems in Change Efforts: Raise Sense of Urgency

In, The heart of change: Real-life stories of how people change their organizations, John Kotter (2002) describes a story from Ted Watson, “Getting the Bosses’ Approval” which illustrates how troublesome corporate change can be, especially when employees do not exhibit the behaviors necessary to facilitate the change. As this story points out, in the event that workers are complacent and manifest fear, anger, resentment, and rejection to change, then perhaps one factor that could address complacency is a sense of urgency. Urgency presents the compelling need to drive people out of complacency and visualize the value associated with the particular change. Complacency can develop through emotions and stifle change processes. As quoted by Vladimir Nabokov (1974), “Complacency is a state of mind that exists only in retrospective: it has to be shattered before being ascertained(n.p.).

Encourage heart

Exemplary leaders establish unambiguous standards, set high expectations, give attention to people, and thoughtfully recognize accomplishment.  Explicit standards serve to guide constituents and focus efforts in norms of reciprocity where feedback helps form consensus on goals. Leaders set high expectations of themselves and their constituents which in turn brings forth higher performance and positive images. Being positive, leaders also pay attention to people, they listen, and are sensitive to human needs. When giving recognition, excellent leaders use efforts to make the recognition personal and thoughtful. Good leaders practice memorable, creative, and unique celebrations and recognition. (Kouzes & Posner, 2002)

Another essential ingredient in the encouragement theme is celebration. Kouzes and Posner (2002) set out some ideas for celebrating wins and shared values. One idea is creating community spirit through ceremony and individual recognition. Public recgontiion also increase self-worth and group cohesiveness. Another element is storytelling. Teaching, learning, and communicating with employees in an open manner and through a story furthrer solidifies motivation and memorable shared experience. In addition, leaders model the example by acting out the values and bring encouragement from the heart.

The most significant encouragement from Herb Kelleher came from his zany, unique ways of being a cheerleader. Whether dressing up like Elvis or staging a dramatic madcap arm wrestling contest, Herb recognizes and celebrates in distinctive fashion. Not only does he set the example in these wacky displays, he insists that fun accompany the celebratory event.

Some may question Kelleher’s antics, yet his recognition and encouragement flow directly from his vision centering on people and fun. Financial chiefs question the outlay for parties, celebrations, banquets, greeting cards, outings, and presents in the budget. Herb frankly replies, “Southwest Airlines has the fewest customer complaints in the industry. How much is that worth” (Ellis, 2001, p. 13)?

Top 5 must haves for Thanksgiving

First, you must have a Butterball turkey.  The turkey has to be coated in your favorite oil or, preferably, butter.  After a thorough shellacking of quality butter, pack the bird as full as possible with stuffing.

Second, the stuffing is critical.  No bird should be baked naked.  You can buy a bag of stuffing off the shelf and toss in some celery, onions, and anything else you prefer with poultry.  Open up both cavities and stuff to the brim – mash it all in there.

Third, a nice soft serving of mashed potatoes is an easy addition.  Cut up some chunks of potatoes and boil them until tender with a whole onion – sliced.  Remove from water and mash up tossing in some salt and seasonings to taste.

Fourth, for the traditional sweet effect (served with dinner – pumpkin pie is after dinner dessert), add sweet potatoes baked in the oven.  Take the dish out of the oven and add a layer of tiny marshmallow for extra goodness.

Fifth, top the perfect Thanksgiving dinner plate off with a well baked green bean casserole.  This is the special effect for the meal.  Take a can of premium green beans or farmers market or your own from the root cellar and place in a casserole dish with a can of Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup.  Layer in some mozzarella.  Top off with French fried onions and bake to a bubbly brown creamy perfection.  Dollop hot on the plate.

Carve a few thick slices of breast and place on one side of the plate.  Add a mound of stuffing.  Next, the mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes side by side.  Spoon out a big helping of green bean casserole and layer out with a generous pouring of gravy.  Before the first fork full, be thankful.

Movie Review: Analysis of 12 Angry Men in Relation to Team Dynamics

The movie 12 Angry Men is an excellent example of the stages in team development and the role that personality and style bring into team dynamics. Each character among the twelve male jurors dramatizes unique ways people work with each other to solve problems and reach decisions. An analysis of the characters and their actions reveals this author’s answers to the ten questions posed after viewing the movie.


Question 1

Sharing names and personal information at the outset of the jury deliberation process would have helped to ease tension and set the stage for team development through social vulnerability and trust. In such a diverse jury, meeting for the first time in closed session, feelings of defensiveness and not wanting to open up would be inherent. Getting to know something about one another would at least break the ice and set a building block for moving the group forward into a more trusting atmosphere and perhaps a working idea of appropriate conflict resolution methods. Sharing would have helped team identity and role clarity. (Lencioni, 2002)

Question 2

Tony Danza was posturing with a flamboyant style saying “open the windows”. He also began attending to the air conditioner which he did not get working. Danza also initiated much small talk and attempted to share a pack of gum with other jurors. He seemed to nonchalantly work his way into the group with a friendly and extroverted leadership style, accepted by some and rejected by others. And, he made it clear that this decision should not take long, and he had an important engagement at the ball park. Perhaps he is too superficial.

Posturing at the water cooler, George C. Scott made a similar non-substantive “get to know you” half-hearted leadership gesture. Scott had made his decision as well that Defendant was guilty and like Danza subtly tried to convey the need to convict. While not bullying at first, both men saw no other alternative. A few other jurors (Lemmon was one) postured alone, seemingly mentally distant from the assembling group. Scott’s and Danza’s style seemed to have no impact and were high level, pre-determined opinions lacking substantive merit. While, the solo thinker posturing, I would argue, set the stage for serious consideration of non-biased argumentative leadership style.

Question 3

Perhaps the head juror did not want the responsibility to lead in a meaningful way or was afraid of conflict in the forming stage. If he had felt comfortable in the leadership role and was not afraid to lead a newly formed group, then the head juror may have taken leadership, but adjusted the style of his leadership according to the stages of the developing team. It is as though he would have preferred a shared and collaborative leadership approach over an autocratic style. Maybe in a later norming or performing team stage, the head juror would have had a better comfort level on leading the jurors. (Giesen, 2005)

Question 4

My initial reaction to Danza was as an adventurous orange. He is an extrovert. Upon further review, I find Danza as an extrovert, sensing, thinking, and judging personality which places his primary color as gold. He also plays red to Lemmon’s blue character, as well as, red to other jurors. Danza’s energy flows to the outer world where he perceives the immediate life experiences. He prefers punctuality, planned and orderly events, and is an animated, talker. Seeing only his immediate needs, like the ball game, Danza wants to get the verdict over with and applies coercive red pressure in the bathroom scene with Lemmon. Lacking value, his arguments are never persuasive. (Giesen, 2005)

Scott is gold as well. Like Danza’s extrovert, sensing, thinking, and judging characteristics, George C. prefers orderly things and loses sight of the bigger picture. Scott respects authority and supplants objective thinkers with historical and rigid pessimism. Being inflexible, Scott uses red confrontational attacks on other juror’s blue style. He has made up his mind, he is trying to sway opinion, and George refuses to admit mistakes or wrong thinking. (Giesen, 2005)

Lemmon by contrast is green. He is an introvert, intuitive, thinker, and perceiver. Lemmon’s energy flows inward and he is open to possibilities. He makes objective decisions and prefers to understand and adapt accordingly. Lemmon thinks in solitary manner before he speaks. He uses critical reasoning, facts, intellect, and logic to present constructive debate. Lemmon is eager to form and move the team forward. He wants to openly and logically discuss the case. With other jurors, he is fair, compromising, trying to do the right thing, and uses tests, examples, and experiments. Lemmon is the altruist. Unlike other jurors, he sees the big picture and the effect on the team, society, and collective goals over individual goals. (Giesen, 2005)

Question 5

As cited previously above, there are many one-on-one confrontations and peer pressure, especially in bathroom cutaway scenes of the movie. Muslim man, Danza, and Scott demonstrated a willingness to exert peer pressure; however, I proclaim that peer pressure was never effective when used threateningly. Perhaps due to shallowness, such pressure failed to bring about trust, commitment, accountability, or results. (Lencioni, 2002) CSI Miami marketing guy seemed swayable by peer pressure, but in the end accepted logic. Although peer pressure was ineffective, pushing or challenging other jurors, most notably demonstrated by Lemmon, was an effective team interaction.

According to Lencioni, (2002, p. 213) “More than any policy or system, there is nothing like the fear of letting down respected teammates that motivates people to improve their performance”. Here, an example of ‘good’ peer pressure is like when Lemmon insisted on hearing and talking about issues.  He did this in order to mine for conflict and reach decisions on the overarching goal of a verdict.  Lemmon’s behavior evoked high expectation of team performance.  In fact, other jurors responded well to this, storming at first, and then reflecting and seeing the cause for higher goals.  Danza turned about and accepted the higher standards through ‘good’ peer pressure.  Therefore, some peer pressure was an effective team function.

Question 6

Storming started after the head juror uproar. Thereafter, storming proceeded in increasing waves during the voting process. Especially notable was the second vote when reasoning and commitment began to change some jurors to not guilty votes. By the time the later round of voting, when it was 9-3 not guilty, the team was truly storming and moving toward norming. After the 9-3 vote, good norming began to pervade the team. (Giesen, 2005)

Question 7

Ineffective behaviors included the bullying, fighting, yelling, shouting, and pressuring. While there was open conflict and debate, it sometimes hinged on a personal attack level. The more effective behaviors involved the critical reasoning, acting out experiments, diversity in points of view, and logical analyzing. The quiet persuasion types like Lemmon, Edward James Almos, and the older cane man effectively spoke when necessary, but ensured that they listened more than they talked. The reflective, pointed, factual behaviors were most effective.

Question 8

The individual jurors with real power were the quiet thinkers. Lemon, Almos, the older black juror, they all spoke when they had something to say. Yet, it was their clear thinking and logical reasoning which gave insight to the problem and formed their power. The quiet thinkers earned their power over time with persuasive storytelling. The head juror had position power, which he used effectively as the group entered norming stages.

Question 9

The jurors with little power in the group were those that had little to say, or that were shallow and had no valuable input. Soprano spoke up rarely and mostly listened. The poor guy had little power, although he was effective in explaining non-relevant issues. Perhaps the juror with no power at all was the CSI Miami juror. He seemed to blab endlessly about his marketing job, flip-flopped, and had no persuasion or logic. Muslim man tried to use coercive power, to no effect.

Question 10

By the end of the movie, the group was entering the performing phase. Since this was a temporary group, the maintenance of this stage could yield over time. However, the jury did come together and solve the issue. Behaviorally, the jurors calmed and relaxed the tense atmosphere. For example, Muslim man came to realize his mistakes and entered into a non-resistant consensus on a not guilty verdict. Overall, behaviors changed from attack and defensiveness to understanding and cooperation. There no longer needed to be an overly strong leader to get the group to commitment and results. The group voting process was highly efficient in moving the jurors forward. (Giesen, 2005)

The entire team shifted from dysfunctional to problem solving within the time of the movie. The problem was complex and there was diversity in understanding of the events. However, the jurors effectively used member relations and processes to overcome personal issues. In the end, the jurors left aside individualism for a higher collective goal. The jury mixed competition with cooperation effectively. (Giesen, 2005)

While there was temper, there was also feedback. Collectively, the jury entered into a Blue/Blue working relationship. The jurors supported one another’s reasoning on issues, overcoming bias by the end. The jurors also left behind their herd mentality in favor of rationality. Because of the affirmation of the overriding goal, leaders who helped the team correct it, and open communication the team achieved a win-win solution. (Giesen, 2005)


Transforming from hung jury to an action-taking shared commitment to results, 12 Angry Men demonstrates a group bringing out the best in each other through stages of team development. Principled leadership and values, as well as, group dynamics can have positive influence when members seek higher order goals.


Giesen, G. (2005). 12 angry men. Movie screening in Dysfunctional Teamwork Class, University of Denver.

Giesen, G. (2005). Critical areas in the red/blue exercise. Handout in Dysfunctional Teamwork Class, University of Denver.

Giesen, G. (2005). Stages of team development. Handout in Dysfunctional Teamwork Class, University of Denver.

Giesen, G. (2005). What is true colors. Handout in Dysfunctional Teamwork Class, University of Denver.

Lencioni, P. (2002). The five dysfunctions of a team: A leadership fable. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

© Neal Huffman 2013 All rights reserved