For those of us who aspire to be leaders or possess an interest in leadership in its own right, it is worth our while to draw both inspiration and a better understanding of the nature of leadership as Lincoln came to define it through his life – before and during his presidency. It is my sincere hope that illustrating Lincoln’s life and career in this way will provide a means for developing an understanding of our own realities and identify and appreciate those duties which it demands of us. This historical illustration will draw from those aspects from Lincoln’s life and career that exemplify his Vision, Integrity and Communications according to his unique abilities to see the reality of a situation, exemplify both challenges and solutions through personal experience, and meaningfully articulate these challenges with clarity. In this way, a model for Principled Leadership shall be defined.
- Distil reality as it is.
- Identify the underlying points of tension and rivalry and to take and defend a position
- Identify integrity in others and understand their underlying strengths and motives
- Identify growth and opportunity
- To integrate the various often opposing views and motives into organizing principles
- See the noble significance of our undertakings
- Capacity to accept reality as it is
- Draw from self experiential knowledge
- Foster Trust
- Follow through and execute
- Wholeness of Purpose and Capability
- Derive meaning from hardship
- Distill reality as it is
- Articulate a vision that integrates or accommodates for opposing forces
- Define capabilities with opportunities
- Utilize communication technology that maintains networks across great distances
- Intuit the significance of a given moment in context
- Ennoble our undertaking above the confines of own immediate needs and wants
This effort will not seek to provide a formula for leadership and management. After all, the context of the nineteenth century is clearly very different from our experience of the workplace and there are many books that claim to provide this sort of framework. We may find it difficult to answer the question, what would Lincoln do in my situation. But we can learn and develop capacities within ourselves that fosters a personal vision that draws from our experience, and a communication style that reflects our vision in a way connects with people where ever they may be in their busy lives. Abraham Lincoln’s capacities in these three core areas are timeless and will provide many of us inspiration and lessons for our own times however different the context may be.