Lessons From Lincoln
December 4, 2012
With the release of the great new Steven Spielberg movie, "Lincoln," based on the Doris Kearns Goodwin book "Team of Rivals," let's examine some traits of the great President that a manager today in our business (or any business for that matter) can learn from.
1) Get out and circulate among your troops.
Lincoln ultimately relieved General John Fremont from his command because he isolated himself and was difficult to gain access to. During his term, Abraham Lincoln spent much of his time out in the field among his troops. In today's world, managers are frequently chained to their desk, staring at a computer screen. Circulate and feel the vibe of your operation.
2) Become a great public speaker.
Before he became President, Lincoln had mastered great skills to communicate his position. Persuading and influencing would become an important Lincoln skill that would serve him greatly when he became President. As you evaluate your skills as a manager and leader, challenge yourself to become better in delivering your "stump speech."
3) Set specific goals and be focused on results.
Lincoln possessed a trait of uncanny perseverance based on consistently planning ahead and setting goals. The President was keenly aware that successful outcomes came as a result of accomplishing step-by-step progress. To suggest that Lincoln always had a sense of urgency would be an understatement. When you set out to make progress with the tremendous challenges and opportunities in our industry, set the leadership tone of Lincoln and leave nothing in your workload for tomorrow that can be done today.
4) Keep communicating and reaffirming your organizational vision.
Everywhere Lincoln traveled, he seized the opportunity to reassert the vision for the nation. In an era prior to mass media, Lincoln used his skills as a roving leader to personally get the message out. By making his message simple and clear, the great leader continued to inspire the nation at times of great need. As you manage your day among your people, keep carrying the important messages out to reaffirm where you are all headed.
5) Make honesty and integrity your highest priorities.
The President didn't get the name "Honest Abe" without earning it. He consistently preached "stand with anybody who stands right," and he always attempted to do the right thing. He didn't deal with people he was aware of as being dishonest, and his sincerity was believable and authentic. In a business of intense pressures, your leadership must be based on the highest principles of integrity.