Lincoln on Leadership

Modern leaders should learn from Abraham Lincoln and go out and engage with staff from every level of their organization.

Leaders experience an overwhelming amount of pressure no matter how well they do as the head of the group. Despite the immense amount of demands that came with the territory, a great leader knows how to function both as leader and encourager.

Abraham Lincoln, for instance, took the time to personally encourage his soldiers and remind them of what they are defending during the American Civil War.

Abraham Lincoln showed a perfect standard of how a leader should be hands-on and not just be the head of the pack without getting involved in tiny details. He knew the weight of close engagement from the highest of his cabinet members to the lowest of his Union Army soldiers.

Imagine spending 75% of your time chasing down your team members to talk to them and hear out their opinion even after going through bi-weekly meetings with them. If you perceive that to be time-consuming and tiring, Lincoln would beg to disagree if he was alive. For him, he yearned to continually touch base with his team to ensure their commitment and quality.

Managing by Wandering around (MBWA) is a modern method similar to Lincoln's manner of engaging closely to all levels of his system. This technique educates leaders about spending quality time with their staff at every level to gain involvement, solicit viewpoints regarding their ongoing management, and urge them to follow the company values and vision.

The said method inspires leaders to leave the comfort of their office desks and create engagement with their people on the front line of the team. Like Lincoln, leave your comfort zone to provide support to your team members, most especially those who badly need to be encouraged.

No one can implement better assistance than their leader—you. Understand how vital it is to be visible and supportive of your team. It will give them the will to keep going for the success of your vision.

Follow the standard set by Abraham Lincoln, and you will build a stronger pact with your team.

Great leaders like Lincoln preach, persuade and reinforce rather than coerce.

As a leader, you must have encountered the dilemma familiar to the rest of the leadership world; should you use the carrot or the stick for team motivation?

If you are to study the pattern of Lincoln's leadership, you would know that he implemented the carrot strategy to motivate. And consider the fact that he was one of the greatest leaders the world history has ever known.

In case you need a refresher, President Abraham Lincoln used his ability to persuade, inform, and inspire others to end slavery. And he used the same ability to attack those in power who were in favor of slavery. At the time, the number of politicians who wished to maintain the same pattern was overwhelming enough to ignite his goal to oppose even more.

Lincoln knew somebody had to put an end to such madness, and so he used a well-crafted discussion to defy rhetorical flair. He directed his argument towards the examples led by the founding fathers of their nation and did his best to convince everyone that they must turn their backs on slavery. His speech was his primary tool in winning the presidency to implement his vision further.

Other leaders would have turned a blind eye to what was going south with the nation, but Lincoln opposed it. However, he chose to use the carrot strategy and not focus on coercion and discipline. He went the other direction and encouraged others through persuasion.

His persuasion did not end after winning the presidency. Deemed as useful and productive, he extended the same technique towards his subordinates. He influenced his people through a different kind of approach that made successfully clothed his orders as suggestions that made him very involved in the process. He made them feel like confident equals who were trusted and valued by their leader.

By mastering speaking both in public and in private, and knowing when to be silent, Lincoln became an expert communicator.

If you ever wonder what sails the boat of great leadership, it is communication. It is not about strict regulation or imposing discipline, and it is not about chance either. A good connection is what guides excellent leadership towards legacy. Proper communication between the head and the subordinates is what secures both parties in their rightful places along the process.

Lincoln mastered the art of communication in areas where a connection is crucial. He knew how to speak to individuals and in front of a large audience. And most importantly, he knew when silence is necessary.

An example of his greatness in public speaking throughout the American history was his Gettysburg Address. His secret to excellent public speaking was thorough preparation through advanced writing and editing to achieve the best quality before he addressed the public.

When it comes to a much more personal form of communication, he used a wide range of background to paint his fellow a picture of his viewpoint no matter how complicated the topic was. By doing so, he was able to ensure that the communication was effective even without time-consuming arguments and repetitive explanation.

And finally, Lincoln knew when his silence would be more beneficial. During his re-election campaign, he knew how important it was for his supporters not to develop a misunderstanding of his vision and goals. Lincoln was well aware that often speaking through public address would risk tainting the record that Lincoln already set during his first presidential term. And so, he decided to use silence as his most effective form of connection at the time. As a result, he gained a massive victory over his rivals.

Lincoln always carefully considered his options, meaning he was able to successfully take intelligent and bold action.

When faced with adversities that require the most challenging decision-making, Lincoln carefully thought of his position. Just like during the American Civil War when he was aware of their shortage of the essential military post of Fort Sumter. However, he knew it would start disagreements. Lincoln considered his position and influence. He made sure he would not taint his extraordinary popularity by his decision. Lincoln did the usual pros and cons technique to weigh the consequences and better prepare him. Then, he came up with the best solution. He decided to resupply the fort boldly.

President Lincoln predicted that the Confederate Army would attack the fort, but because they initiated the attack, Lincoln's morale in the eyes of his supporters was left untouched by his decision. He was able to have the most of both choices when he was able to resupply the fort and strengthen his political position through his courageous move.

This example was able to showcase Lincoln's leadership strength in decision-making. He knew the importance of thorough weighing of his options to come up with the best strategy amidst outweighing pros and cons in every turn. He trusted his careful thinking when it comes to sticking by his resolution.

Trial periods give new personnel the chance to display their initiative - and those found wanting can be quickly removed.

Every leader wishes to have the uncanny ability to be in different places at the same time to better implement their leadership if only possible. But in reality, you have to tend to the overall leadership responsibilities of attending meetings, strategic planning, and outsourcing. You wish you do, but you do not have enough time to manage the tiniest detail of your business while being physically and mentally present for your team.

You can put into practice a modern technique known as the ‘honeymoon period’ to give your team members the opportunity to demonstrate initiative and efficiency over a course of six months. Present them with opportunities to showcase advantageous qualities such as their ability to initiate decisions and projects that can result to effectiveness. This method provides a well-deserved and fair chance to your teammates to demonstrate their capabilities as assets. Those who could not perform as expected will move on as to not block the success of those who could.

Abraham Lincoln was once again a good example of such method. He knew he had to spot the right staff that was at ease with their own initiatives. And he was able to find exactly that in General Ulysses S. Grant amidst numbers of ineffective generals who could have easily won the spot had he not used the honeymoon period technique. General Grant was what President Lincoln was looking for—self-motivated, aggressive, and a decisive soldier. His contribution to Lincoln’s success was massive as he was able to prove his initiatives to Lincoln who trusted the filtering technique to find the exact general he needed for the battles.

To exploit technological breakthroughs, Lincoln sought out innovations, implemented them and encouraged new ones.

Abraham Lincoln was all about technological breakthroughs. Of all the presidents who served the country, he is the only one who holds his own patent. He was able to come up with a method to lift boats over obstructions in the water. He understood that triumph relies on the group's capacity to conquer technological adversaries through breakthroughs. He made sure that his team remained on the look-out for advanced innovations that can help his administration achieve further success.

Lincoln has left no stones unturned in order to discover technological advancements achievable during his time just so he could give the Union a winning benefit during the Civil War. He paid attention to whatever technology can help them in any way to win the war such as hot air balloons for high-level spying, flame throwers, and even rockets.

President Lincoln understood the importance of implementing advanced weaponry and technology as soon as possible. He was not one to waste time, most especially when he discovered the massive contribution it could bring to the table. He even overrode his military commanders’ concerns about the new type of rifle, which can hold off their implementation of such technology. And as a result, his decision to arm his soldiers with great weapons brought them victory.

He presented himself approachable for businessmen and investors who wished to come to him with new proposals concerning weaponries to ensure his triumph. Lincoln made sure his office-hours were committed to anyone who can present him with promising new ideas about advanced technology.

By doing so, he was the first to develop new cutting-edge technological development through study and thorough progression after being handed with the proposals.

Lincoln did not limit himself when it comes to technological breakthroughs. He knew how important innovations were, so he sustained to give confidence to new ones and focused on the benefits of being the first to implement such breakthroughs, especially at war.

Managers must carefully balance the need for change and flexibility with stability and consistency.

In this modern era, customers tend to evolve their tastes in products and technology keeps on developing. It is the task of business leaders to ensure that their businesses can adapt to such changes to maintain success. However, what makes the dilemma even more difficult is the fact that the leader should take into consideration the employees’ capability to adapt to such sudden amendments. If not handled well enough, it can result in a loss. Balance is indeed necessary when it comes to managing both flexibility and consistency, which are two opposing things.

As a great leader, it is your task to make sure that your people feel comfortable in being flexible without compromising consistency within areas that need steadiness. A good example is the sales department. The sales team runs with a goal, and consistency is essential for these employees to have confidence in their work. Adjusting or raising targets all of a sudden just to adapt to flexibility might jeopardize their performance.

President Lincoln understood the balance between flexibility and stability through consistency. He knew he had to master the difference when he led the US government through its most terrible periods in history because of the Civil War. Lincoln created extreme changes without compromising what his people can expect from his actions and decisions. He did not compromise his people's confidence in him through choices far from his beliefs. And even if he promoted his staff in favor of being flexible, he trusted the consistency of their performance.

In doing so, he was able to maximize the benefits from being both flexible and consistent, which an excellent leader must learn how to execute to follow Lincoln’s footsteps towards success.

By forgiving the mistakes of both his staff and his enemies, Lincoln built up levels of trust in his administration.

During the American Civil War, death was bestowed upon those who opted to forsake the Union Army. Despite this punishment, Abraham Lincoln still saved young men who decided to opt out of the army because they could no longer bring themselves to kill. He showcased his ability to understand and forgive. He continued to provide pardons more than anyone in the US presidential history.

Lincoln’s merciful nature earned faith and confidence from his government. He meant to persuade his enemies of the fact that it was harmless to lay down their arms under his reign and be pardoned.

He provided not just absolution but defense to his people as they seek bold decisions that could strengthen their strategies to win the war. He would take personal blame for unsuccessful military operations to avoid disheartening his generals after criticisms due to failure.

Lincoln’s persuasion was enough to turn treachery to life-long pledge of faithfulness. During the end of the Civil War, a group of confederates approached Lincoln with their concern of being executed due to committing treason. He gave him his word that as long as they will remain faithful in the future, they would stay unharmed. This act of absolution gained him more faithful commodores and helped him mend the largest crack in the history of United States. He showed his nation and beyond that his forgiveness extends consistently to those who seek for it.

Final Summary

Abraham Lincoln executed an exceptional headship through personal involvement. He made certain to be involved in every division of his administration on a daily basis. His quiet presence and exceptional persuasion mixed with excellent communication and full control of his power made Abraham Lincoln the best leader the US history has ever celebrated.

The thought of failure did not fright him for a second, because he personally reinforced honor, inventiveness, careful decision-making through difficult predicaments that could have thrown his leadership down the hill, and outstanding execution of flexibility amidst the need to be consistent. All these amazing leadership traits with great valor to defend his people and show absolution when asked made him not only popular but well-respected up to date.

Actionable ideas:

Observe Personal Involvement

In order to be a great leader, you have to get out of the comfort provided by your office and get yourself out there where the action is.

Gain confidence from your employees by spending quality time with them, gather suggestions and feedback, persuade them the right way so they can catch your vision and stay within the context of your team goals as they brave the struggles for your victory. Be involved so you can earn not just their utmost respect but their commitments, too.

Provide Chances for Positions

Give your employees—even the new ones—a chance to prove their proficiency and capabilities. Let them have a trial period to initiate and demonstrate handiness in a particular position, and see if they may turn out to be the perfect fit. If they can’t keep up with the task, you can move on and find someone else who can. Risk is part of the process.

Communication is the Key

If you aim to be a great leader, you must be able to master your communication skills. Speak to share your mind, and pay attention so you can achieve as much admiration and perspective from your teammates. Give them the freedom to speak and make sure that they feel heard. Remember, great leadership is a two-way street. Whether through a great speech or by written means, you can persuade them to know your vision by heart.