Lincoln Leadeship Institute's Angela Sontheimer

Who she is: Managing director of Lincoln Leadership Institute at Gettysburg

What she does: Angela is responsible for overseeing operations, marketing and curriculum design. She is a graduate of Gettysburg College and holds a masters degree in leadership and liberal studies from Duquesne University.

Why she does it: “I love learning about the past because there are so many incredible lessons there for us to understand,” Angela says. “In my job at the Lincoln Leadership Institute, we focus on the Battle of Gettysburg and the Civil War, and I can’t think of a more powerful time in history when men and women were challenged to go beyond anything they ever dreamed of to fight for their lives, their families, and their country. It’s humbling, and important to fully appreciate their sacrifices. I hope that I can share their leadership lessons with as many people as possible.”


By Hope Katz Gibbs

As the managing director of the Lincoln Leadership Institute at Gettysburg, Angela Sontheimer spends a lot of time thinking about how leaders can be more effective.

Although there are many key factors that help them accomplish that goal, there are a few character traits that stand out.

The power of joy

Angela said she recently saw a Gallup Healthways survey of 100,000 Americans that said joy has everything to do with happiness in the workplace.

“I was pleasantly surprised to learn that business owners outrank 10 other occupations in overall well-being,” said explains. “Leaders, in fact, say they have lower stress levels and better physical health than those in other occupations.”

Angela thought that Harvard professor and blogger Rosabeth Moss Kanter might have something to say about that, for her premise is that autonomy, influence, and a sense of meaning are key ingredients in helping us to find joy at work.

“Kanter explains that supervisors are better-off than the supervised, and entrepreneurs are the best-off of all,” Angela says. “The leaders who come to the Lincoln Leadership Institute know that exhibiting leadership skills is the surest route to joy at work.”

The importance of happiness

Happiness is another key component of work success, Angela shares.

“Regardless of our field of work, we regularly use hard numbers to chart our growth, profits and losses, and retention,” she says. “As a nation, one measure we look at regularly is our gross national product, or GNP. But I wonder what would happen if we took a page out of the book of the country of Bhutan.”

The tiny, mountainous country, which is about the size of Maryland, is located between India and Tibet. It is famously isolated and insular, with aspects of modern life such as cell phones and television only recently introduced.

“The thing I love about Bhutan is that it focuses on GNH, or gross national happiness, and measures success on how happy it is as a nation,” Angela notes. “Specifically, the leaders there are focused on the promotion of equitable and sustainable socioeconomic development, preservation and promotion of cultural values, conservation of the natural environment, and establishment of good governance.”

Here’s Angela’s challenge: “I wonder what would happen to our organizations if we started to care not only about the bottom line, but also about organizational GNH? What would happen to our relationships at work, productivity, the relationships we hold with clients and other stake holders? Try it for a day — or a week. I bet you’ll be pleased with the results!”

*For more information, contact Angela at, and visit

The Women