Team of Rivals

(photo from Sec. Martin Andanar of the Presidential Communications Office)

I read Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book the Team of Rivals a few years back. And it popped back into my head after I saw this photo. I have been an avid supporter of then Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte in the past because of what he has done and accomplished in Davao City. I knew him to be an action man but I didn’t really know anything about the inner workings of City Hall more than was written in the press.

The book Team of Rivals details Goodwin’s research and analysis of how former US President Abraham Lincoln was able to provide great leadership during his time and how we was able to recruit his main rivals for the presidency to join his cabinet. It is a rare thing in politics when a leader goes out of his way to accommodate his intellectual “foes” and works with them for the common good. While both Lincoln and Duterte have major weaknesses, there’s a lot that can be said for leaders who try to bring everyone to the table. Lincoln paved the way for slavery to end in North America.

What Goodwin said about Lincoln (in this HBR interview) holds true for Duterte for me as well:

Interviewer: More books have been written on Lincoln than on any other American president. What does Lincoln’s magic as a leader really come down to?

Goodwin: Well, it wasn’t anything so immediately felt as charisma. In fact, it took the country some time to warm to Lincoln; his popularity almost came from the inside out. His cabinet was the first to see something unusual about him.

Take William Seward, who originally was a rival. Some eight weeks after becoming secretary of state, Seward wrote to his wife that Lincoln was unlike anyone he’d ever known. Other members of the cabinet came to think so, too. One after another, they came to power thinking Lincoln was rather unexceptional and ended up believing that he was as near a perfect man as anyone they’d ever met.

What Lincoln had, it seems to me, was an extraordinary amount of emotional intelligence. He was able to acknowledge his errors and learn from his mistakes to a remarkable degree. He was careful to put past hurts behind him and never allowed wounds to fester. The rare example I could find of Lincoln’s being unable to forgive someone was his father. Lincoln never visited his father when he was dying, which suggests that he could not let go of the anger he felt toward the man who considered the future president’s fierce desire to learn a sign of laziness.”

Duterte’s legacy as presidency remains to be seen.

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