Posted on March 1, 2013

Leadership, Lincoln Style

Abraham Lincoln is my favorite president and a unique example, in politics, of an admirable style of leadership with business lessons. Lincoln filled his cabinet with those who most vehemently opposed him. He felt that the President should represent all Americans, and that those who disagreed with him deserved a voice as well as those who supported him. When was the last time a leader you know invited someone opposed to them into his/her inner circle? It takes quite a bit of confidence to not only do this, but he also possessed the ability to continue to serve despite possibly being the most vilified President while in office.

Lincoln presided over the bloodiest war ever in our country in order to forward the greater good. As leaders, entering a battle for hope of the greater good is dicey business. Further, Lincoln accepted responsibility for the mistakes of everyone in his administration, yet turned over the credit and praise to his staff as well. That said, he did not permit those whose integrity faltered to remain in his circle.

Although it may sound like just business school theory, Lincoln employed “Management by Walking Around” and had a unique “Open Door Policy.” Lincoln also showed unprecedented compassion in pardoning more people than any other President. Another example of his leadership was his treatment of Salmon Chase, who was his Secretary of the Treasury. Chase aspired to be President and crossed Lincoln many times. After dismissing him as Treasury Secretary, he nominated him as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Many questioned Lincoln’s choice and he stated a simple truth, “he is the best man for the job.” Wouldn’t it be great if all leaders could exhibit this selfless service?

Chief Judge Frank J. Williams provided the following list of character traits and values shown by Lincoln:
Honest and Integrity, Industriousness, Meticulousness, Confidence, Rhetorical Skills, Courage, Zealousness, Persistence, Fair Mindedness, and Humility.

Imagine if the leaders we all know and follow shared these qualities…