Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Teaching Leadership at Gettysburg

Last October I was lucky enough to get a look behind-the-scenes at Gettysburg, courtesy of the Gettysburg Foundation.  (See my original post here.  See George Will’s background article here.)  I was dazzled by the work being done by the Foundation to restore the battlefield and Cyclorama, and to tell the story of the battle and its impact through the lens of a new, world-class museum and visitor center

Just recently I received news of a terrific initiative, the Gettysburg Foundation Leadership Program, a one to three-day program that offers a highly experiential demonstration of leadership tools tailored specifically to individual organizations. 

The program allows participants to examine leadership challenges while walking the very fields where the decisions made to overcome extraordinary challenges had such far-reaching impact.  Gettysburg—the town, the battlefield, the museum and Cyclorama—offers numerous opportunities for discussion: There are examples of tactical innovations by subordinate officers, the impact of inadequate or incompetent leadership, communication problems between commanders, team-building challenges for seasoned and emergent leaders, dramatic consequences of decisions made my junior leaders, and the example of strategy and vision provided by President Lincoln and his Gettysburg Address.

The experience of Gettysburg can have a profound effect.  I know.

One CEO who brought his senior leadership team to Gettysburg concluded, “The lessons we learned here will carry us through a lifetime of business challenges and make us collectively a better company.”    

Another participant said, “This has been a fabulous opportunity to study leadership in a unique set of circumstances that can translate to modern management environments.” 

You can take them golfing.  You could do (yet another) ropes course.  You can sit in a hotel conference room and show PowerPoints.  Or, you could bring them to Gettysburg.

Could there be a better way to challenge and re-energize your team for the battles we all face in 2009?