Lincoln as a Leader

Good day everyone

Welcome back to the Café

Here is a piece of training I shared with a student this week.

I hope you find it helpful. It comes from an article I read years ago.

Lincoln as a Leader

As we celebrate President’s Day, it is the perfect time to consider some of the leadership traits that made Abraham Lincoln one of the great presidents in American history.

Lincoln’s leadership traits have stood the test of time. While not perfect as a leader, Abraham Lincoln demonstrated the following characteristics from which all of us can continue to learn.

Lincoln was confident enough in himself and his ability to pull into his inner circle many of his rivals who were his worst enemies earlier. These same men, particularly William Henry Seward (Lincoln’s main rival in 1860 and later became his Secretary of State), wound up being his most trusted advisor. Too many leaders surround themselves with people who simply tell the leader what they want to hear and are not secure enough to bring in other strong leaders, much less previous rivals.

Think about this passage which was written about President Lincoln; which includes a combination of Lincoln’s extraordinary leadership traits

“His personal qualities enabled him to form friendships with men who had previously opposed him; to repair injured feelings that, left untended, might have escalated into permanent hostility; to assume responsibility for the failures of subordinates, to share credit with ease, and to learn from mistakes.”

Historical accounts of Lincoln are filled with examples of him consistently trying to find common ground with those who opposed him. Further, Lincoln demonstrated the Harry Truman leadership philosophy of “the buck stops here” regularly. Too many leaders are caught up in playing the “blame game” when things go wrong, while Lincoln saw mistakes made by those on his team as ultimately his responsibility.

Lincoln was incredibly “self-aware,” meaning he understood that he could have severe mood shifts. Like all leaders, he could get angry. Still, Lincoln had the uncanny ability to know that the way he communicated his anger toward those around him was critical to his success. When Lincoln was particularly angry, he had a habit of writing a letter to the person he was angry with and setting it aside, often not sending it, but rather expressing those emotions on paper. Further, when Lincoln verbally communicated his anger, he quickly tried to resolve the situation, refusing to allow unresolved conflict to fester.

One of Lincoln’s most significant leadership traits was his sense of integrity and strong belief in his principles. He was willing to compromise; however, those around him could be confident his core principles would not change from day to day depending upon the circumstances around him or his perceived popularity at the time. Such leadership inspires the loyalty, dedication, and confidence of those around you.

Finally, Lincoln’s communication skills were extraordinary. He was not a slick or even a great public speaker. Further, Lincoln refused to speak in public without a prepared text. However, Lincoln’s greatest gift as a communicator was that most people believed that HE believed what he was saying. In many ways, that is where the expression “Honest Abe” came from. When people believe that YOU believe, it speaks volumes about your ability as a leader to get them to follow.

Thank you for stopping by the Café. Would you please share it with someone who could benefit from it if you found this helpful? For more tips and resources, visit the website at Please also feel free to buy me a cup of coffee.

Published by cafeboss2503

I am a Retail manager with over 30 years of experience and stories. I started as a shift manager and worked my way up to Regional Management positions. I also enjoy a good cup of Coffee.

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