This year at SAMIBC2021 we are pleased to announce another of our presenters, Robert Bell from the Tennessee Tech University. Dr. Bell will be presenting, Lessons in Crisis Leadership: Generals and Politicians in the U.S. Civil War.

Presentation Abstract: The COVID Pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for many organizations and their leaders. Similarly, the U.S. Civil War presented critical challenges for leaders on both sides. Today’s leaders can learn much from the approaches these individuals made to the crisis of the day.

This paper reviews the actions of some of the war’s most influential players, and outlines some of their key leadership initiatives and mistakes. Implications for contemporary leadership style are discussed.

We can learn much from the political and military leaders of the U.S. Civil War. While over 150 years have passed since that great conflict, there still are lessons to be learned and interpretations to be made. Today’s emerging leaders can learn from the actions, inactions, and mistakes of the leaders of this great contest. This manuscript focuses primarily on four men, Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, and Generals Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee. Lincoln and Davis, both new presidents, had a lot to learn, and were forced to wade through the morass of uncertainty caused by the war. Grant and Lee, seasoned men with significant military backgrounds, both evolved as their respective situations changed. Many other leaders made significant contributions to their causes, and a selected few are described at times to help make a point, but space limits this work primarily to these four, with respectful mention of Generals W.T. Sherman, George Thomas, Stonewall Jackson, Jeb Stuart, James Longstreet, and Joseph Johnston.

Much has been written over the years about these leaders, and this manuscript stands on the shoulders of many accomplished writers, primarily historians. Yet this author, coming from a business school dean and university presidential perspective, attempts to offer an interpretation of the emerging leader that differs in many ways from other texts. Wheeler (2000) for example, offers a thought-provoking text on the styles of these leaders. Yet his work focuses on strategy, and ties strategic implications to examples of modern business leadership. Goodwin (2005) focuses on the complex macro-political forces faced by Lincoln. This paper, while not claiming to be exhaustive or totally comprehensive, will look at specific actions of selected leaders, and suggest implications for today’s leaders who face challenging times. While the examples given are all derived from men who led during this formative period of history, the implications are appropriate for all leaders, regardless of gender.

Join us online to see this great paper and many more March 18 – 20, 2021. For registration information visit