Abraham Lincoln is one of my heroes. He led the US through a devastating civil war and along the way helped navigate the country out of slavery, rendering it forever illegal. In studying his life, I have seen that he demonstrated a mastery in leadership and personified several qualities that are worthy of note.
His life was motivated by a simple and yet powerful intent – to be worthy of the esteem of others. In navigating his life and his politics, he was led by the values of the Founding Fathers in their creation of the American constitution. This led to a singularity of political purpose and an inner compass that built good character.
He had a willingness and ability to know himself and avoid his ego dominating his intent to offer great service and stewardship. He took responsibility for his inner state and did what he could to get the very best from himself and others in very trying circumstances. Time and again, he chose magnanimity with those who proved self centered or offensive. He invested in those relationships and in so doing he created allies out of potential antagonists.
He was willing to work with the greatest talent, even if they would be the most challenging and potentially undermining. In choosing his first cabinet, he nominated colleagues with whom he fought the presidential election, as they were the best minds available.
In the heartrending and exhausting journey through the war, he chose to bring light heartedness and uplifting support in his treatment of those he came into contact with. He was aware of the importance of supporting the morale of those people he was leading.
He respected the innate ability of people to decide highly complex issues and with that faith he informed, reasoned and appealed to people’s best nature. As well as offering excellent logical argument, he would also tell stories that would amuse and subtly educate. He invested time and undertook a depth of reflection in forming his thoughts and points of view. This led to a quality of knowing where he was choosing to lead others based on sound preparation and diligence.
He role modelled phenomenal fortitude and recognised what he needed to feed his heart and mind and took responsibility in having those needs met. Essentially, he invested in people and people responded by investing, supporting and believing in him.
If ever there was a time for us to enjoy and develop some of Lincoln’s great leadership qualities, it would be now. I offer an hours talk with time for questions on the story of Abraham Lincoln as one of our great leaders.