In one case study, students examined the strategic advantage seized by Gen. John Buford, whose choice of Gettysburg as the field of battle gave Union forces the tactical “high ground.” Participants were asked to explore their own personal “high ground” and that of their organization, and to examine the potential conflict between personal and organizational values.

“I found our study of Buford’s thought process to be helpful in how I approach my new position with the Coast Guard,” says Schanno, now an aircraft systems manager at USCG headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Lincoln Leadership Institute

Krannert professor Brad Alge discusses Abraham Lincoln’s leadership style and communication skills, including a case study of the Gettysburg Address. (Photo by the Lincoln Leadership Institute)

“Like Buford, who saw the progression of the entire battle from Seminary Ridge, I can envision what positive goals could be reached even beyond my time of responsibility,” he says. “I can then prepare and position myself and my team to work toward those goals.”

Another case study focused on building dedication and engaging the disengaged by examining the leadership of Col. Joshua Chamberlain, commander of the 20th Maine Regiment, and his heroic efforts to protect the left flank of the Union Army.

“From an organizational standpoint, the ‘left flank’ represents a company’s weaknesses,” Alge says. “If it collapses, the organization collapses.”

Using a combination of “transactional” and “transformational” leadership, Chamberlain convinced more than 100 mutineers from other Maine regiments to join his troops in their defense of Little Round Top, culminating with a daring, downhill bayonet charge that many believe turned the course of the battle in the Union’s favor.

The group also examined the communication breakdown between Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and his next in command, Gen. James Longstreet, who disagreed with Lee’s battle plan but ultimately gave the order to launch the disastrous and deadly infantry assault known as Pickett’s Charge.

“Longstreet needed to do a better job of ‘leading up’ by providing Lee with details of an alternative strategy,” Alge says. “His failure to manage his disagreement with Lee is considered one of the battle’s key tipping points, and it followed Longstreet for the rest of his career.”

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