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LEADERSHIP IS A PROCESS OF SOCIAL INFLUENCE, WHICH MAXIMISES THE EFFORTS OF OTHERS TOWARDS THE ACHIEVEMENT OF A SHARED GOAL.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Positive Leadership: A Team of Rival Perspectives

One element that fosters creativity is the ability to see an issue from multiple angles. When leaders build mechanisms that give them these various perspectives, they are more likely to see creative solutions.

One fascinating example is that of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was the surprise winner of a hotly contested primary election that included personal attacks and attempted coup d’├ętats. Once he had secured the nomination, and later the presidency of the United States, Lincoln assembled his cabinet primarily of the very men he quarrelled with for the nomination. This “team of rivals” was able to provide a variety of perspectives and create a tension over the solutions that avoided the traditional, yes-man saturated groupthink sessions that marked so many other presidents’ cabinets.

What is important is for the leader of such diverse rivalries to sustain the right amount of creative friction, taking care to produce the tension needed to refine new ideas and challenge old assumptions while ensuring that the tension doesn’t get overbearing and melt the team. While there was a team of rivals in Lincoln’s cabinet, we suspect it was always certain who that needed leader was.
We tend to think of creatives as artists, musicians and writers. However, Lincoln’s deliberate attempt to leverage tension provided him with a style of creativity he found quite useful in navigating America through an equally tumultuous feud.

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