Lincoln on Leadership

December 17th, 2012

I’m a big fan of our 16th president.

Since seeing the movie Lincoln (incredible) and now reading “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln,” the book upon which Lincoln was based in part (Doris Kearns Goodwin is my new role model), I’m pretty into Honest Abe.

As I learned in “Team of Rivals,” Abraham Lincoln first became known in public life for his storytelling (a topic you’ll hear more about from me very soon…). As a country lawyer, he and his compatriots traveled Illinois following the district court judge, seeking out clients flocking to halls of justice across the state.

In the evenings, lawyers and clients alike would then flock to the local tavern, where Lincoln would inevitably draw the attention of all with his masterful tales. It wasn’t long before his reputation preceded him, and regularly folks from miles around would travel to crowd taverns late into the evening. Thus began a great story.

Loving all things Lincoln, the article, “4 Leadership Lessons From Abraham Lincoln,” published today on, caught my eye.

Truly, if you haven’t yet seen Lincoln, I highly encourage you to do so. It is a story worth telling about a president, and a time, worth knowing.

You’d also readily recognize these four traits from the film:

1. Say no to “Yes Men.” Lincoln brought all three of his Republican primary rivals into his cabinet, with his closest adversary in the most powerful role.

2. Be decisive. The Civil War president listened carefully to the opinions of others, but knew when he had to forge ahead.

3. Look for inspiration in unlikely places. Apparently, while serving in Congress, Lincoln “studied mathematics to gain wisdom in reasoning.”

4. Connect with people on a personal level. Lincoln opens with a battle scene, followed by Lincoln conversing with individual soldiers, black and white, behind the front. He held office hours at the White House, regularly meeting with ordinary citizens.


For more on Lincoln’s political prowess, read “6 Ways To Make A Team Of Rivals Work” on



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