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What would Lincoln do?

Courtesy Tigrett Corp.

“The Civil War was an event that presented leadership challenges on a scale never experienced before in America. Individuals were forced to act in a rapidly changing, stressful environment with limited information and limited resources. Something akin to today’s business world.”

From the Lincoln Leadership Institute at Gettysburg

Building on this concept, two organizations use the Battle of Gettysburg as a tool to train leaders.

With the Gettysburg Hotel as a base of operations, the workshops blend presentations, battlefield experiences and give-and-take with seasoned faculty, including Abraham Lincoln, who is portrayed by a historian who interprets and looks like the 16th president.

Both organizations agree that the biggest challenge today’s leaders face is adapting to change.

“Leadership is difficult to teach,” said Antigoni Ladd, whose company, Tigrett Corp., runs three-day sessions. “It’s more a way of looking at things and a lot of common sense. We find role models, then go to where they lived and acted.”

Ladd’s workshops mix films, issue papers and visits to the battlefield with historic characters like Lincoln, Eisenhower (whose farm is nearby) and Winston Churchill.

“Churchill was in Gettysburg three times, and he was a great fan of the Civil War,” she said. “He and Eisenhower were polar opposites in personality. The lesson is that you can be an effective leader whether you make decisions quietly or by pounding your fist.”

The Lincoln Leadership Institute uses the Civil War as a metaphor and the battlefield as a classroom. Its faculty, which also includes “Lincoln,” extracts “timeless principles” from the “powerful lessons” of the battle to help top-level executives at companies like Apple, Pfizer and ExxonMobil adapt to change and grow as leaders.

Institute president and motivational speaker Steven B. Wiley designed the three-day leadership program, Transformational Journey from Gettysburg. The institute also offers sessions on negotiation skills and executive presence.