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Lincoln's modern job

Some 130 years after his death, Abraham Lincoln has a new career as a leadership trainer, thanks to Antigoni Ladd, AB'65. With her husband, Everett Ladd, she founded the Tigrett Corporation 14 years ago to teach leadership skills to business executives. Designed to demonstrate the arts of persuasion and compromise within the context of history, the program presents executives with a contemporary problem, shows how a historical figure resolved a similar one, and then lets the executives apply those insights.

In April, Ladd directed a "Lessons from Lincoln" seminar in Gettysburg, PA, for about 15 executives. After presenting the problem-working with difficult people-she explained how Lincoln would focus on his goal. As long as his "employees" performed their duties, he ignored their personality quirks and even their disparaging remarks about himself. The day ended with a battleground tour and an interview with "Lincoln," played by historian James Getty, about his leadership decisions.

Ladd got the idea of using historical figures to teach leadership from John Clemens, a Hartwick College professor who in the late '80s used literature-from the Iliad to Shakespeare-to provide such training. Ladd went a step further, first writing case studies using historical figures, then adding on-site locations to give a retreat-like feeling and help executives remember the lesson by tying it to a specific locale.

From Lincoln, the Ladds have expanded their offerings to include seminars on how three Civil War Union generals-John Buford, George S. Greene, and Joshua Lawrence Chamberlin-worked with limited resources. Tigrett also offers a London-based course on Winston Churchill, including a visit to the late prime minister's WWII war rooms to learn the language of leadership. Another trip, to Billings, Montana, teaches how to build alliances from the legacy of Sitting Bull.

Ladd estimates that 1,000 individuals from 100 different companies in businesses as diverse as banking and telecommunications have been trained using the programs. "The analogy of Lincoln and the Civil War became an eye-opening view of my organization," noted one executive on a postseminar evaluation. "The program was a unique way to examine issues in a non-threatening environment that could then be readily related to the job."-Q.J.

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