Abraham Lincoln is more than America's 16th president. He's a model of leadership who demonstrates traits and characteristics that are essential for present day executives and business leaders.
Like Lincoln, you face the challenge of executing a vision, while also managing competing priorities. Leading others to join you in that vision is a difficult task, and one that can be fraught with self-doubt, frustration and other negative emotions.
Before and after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln confronted a variety of trials and obstacles, but remained committed to his vision to create a free nation. While Lincoln embodies many admirable qualities, three are especially relevant:
Like most leaders, Lincoln dealt with conflicting views and personalities, yet he's known as a man who listened. People were free to oppose his point of view without fear of retaliation. Of course, listening wasn't always an indication of Lincoln's agreement. He would simply listen to competing ideas, process what he'd heard, and then respectfully make his final decision. Executives can model their behavior similarly, fostering open dialogue by allowing others to offer ideas and suggestions. Here's how:
Lincoln was a communicator who artfully wove his vision for a free America with the priorities of his countrymen. This is no small feat, and one executives wrestle with daily. Often, it's difficult to make executive decisions that are best for long-term success when they conflict with short-term interests. Lincoln was a speaker of the people. In other words, he simplified his vision and presented it in a way that conveyed his understanding of the people and supported his larger purpose. Effective communication, like Lincoln's, is marked by:
Lincoln endured his share of mental suffering during his presidency. The pressure of leadership can evoke fear and self-doubt in the most successful leaders. Certainly, leadership is not for the weak of heart. It takes resilience and composure to manage the range of negative emotions that can arise when facing challenges. Lincoln demonstrates how leaders can navigate tough emotions without compromising their larger purpose or vision. Regardless of circumstances, he had:
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