Does it still give meaning in today’s world?

Recognize these words and do they have any meaning intoday’s marketplace?

“Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation,conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us–that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion–that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.”

150-years ago my 5th cousin removed, President Abraham Lincoln, uttered these words that every American child has heard at one time or another. The question is whether over a century later these words hold any value in today’s rapidly changing world. Clearly this could be used to express a particular political doctrine, but that it not my intent. The intent is what message does this drive to our organizations on how we treat our human capital assets. Easiest way to present my view is to break it down into several segments:

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation,conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

We are involved in a major shift today. We are not talking about inequality in compensation or the same ilk. We are talking about a shift in perspective in which we are all part of the same team. The idea of command and control is passé. Our new managers now need to know how to be coaches and leaders not “managers.”

The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated hereto the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.

Lincoln was partially correct in that in many organizations what you do will not survive over time to the outside world. The corporate graveyard is strewn with names that have joined their brethren but we forget who they are. However whether they are still fully functional thriving or part of the graveyard, they have delivered a clear message. The message being that as organizations we have a job to do. That job is to create organizations which are aligned, are innovative and are continuously looking to create strategic initiatives which enhance both the organization and its human capital assets. We do this through our words, our actions and our organizational values.

My cousin was deeply involved in a troubled period in our history, much as we are in troubled economic times today. But we equally have a message to our organizations as leaders. We need to be resolved to treat human capital equally with respect, concern, commitment to well-being and with the belief in the strengths they bring to the table. We cannot continue in this century treating employees like they are our property to treat as organizations see fit as circumstances dictate.

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