Monday, July 21, 2014

Leadership lessons from Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln was the sixteenth president of the United States. He was born on the 12th of February 1809 in rural Kentucky (USA). He served as president from 1861 to 1865, during the American Civil War. During the Civil War, Lincoln was determined to maintain the "Union” of American States at any cost.  He fought the war bravely and declared, “A nation cannot exist half free and half slave.” He won the war and kept his country united. Almost all historians judge Lincoln as the greatest president of American history because of the way he exercised leadership during the war. Lincoln had very little formal education, but had a strong passion for books and self-learning. His primary means of education was schooling at home using borrowed books and the Bible. As a legislator, he had a reputation of eloquent opponent of slavery. Lincoln married Mary Todd in 1842 and they had four children.  He was elected as a president of the United States in 1860, re-elected in 1864 and served from March 4, 1861 until his death. As president, he built the Republican Party into a strong national organization. He is remembered for his character, his speeches and letters and as a man of humble origin whose determination and perseverance earned him the nation’s highest office. Lincoln is often admired for his Gettysburg address, which is considered one of the greatest speeches in American history. He is a symbol of racial equality. Lincoln was assassinated on the 15th April 1865. His life reveals not only dreams and desires but also his habits of strong direction, dedication and determination.

Leadership lessons

Focused ambition 
Lincoln had a desire to become a great orator. With this aim, he approached his teacher, Mater Graham. The teacher advised him to learn grammar. Lincoln borrowed a grammar book and memorized grammar day and night. Lincoln mastered grammar and attained his goal of becoming a best speaker of his time.
Lincoln kept his ambition focused on serving the people and winning their esteem. It is said by Lincoln that “Don’t worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition. “Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.”
Character as destiny 
 Lincoln possessed a well developed conscience and courage. He was morally superior. It is  said by Lincoln that “Character is like a tree and reputation its shadow. The shadow is what we think it is and the tree is the real thing.” Lincoln was fair, trustworthy, sincere, straight forward with sound moral principle. He even had the nickname “Honest Abe.” It is also told by him that  “I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true.”
Courage and commitment 
 Lincoln possessed supreme will power: strength of mind. He is remembered for his courage and leadership, his peacefulness and compassion, his patriotism and devotion to his country. It is said by Lincoln that “It requires more courage to dare to do right than to fear to do wrong.” It is also said by Lincoln that  “Live a good life. In the end it is not the years in a life, but the life in the years.”
Firm believer of hard  work 
 He acknowledged the power of hard work to achieve success.  It is said by him that  “You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.” Another occasion he quoted that “I am always for the man who wishes to work.”
Habit of persistence 
Lincoln is a great example of persistence. Persistence means never giving up and  to do requires self-discipline. He was defeated for the legislature and lost his job in 1832. He failed in his own business in 1833.In 1836, he had nervous breakdown. He bought for senate in 1854 and defeated miserably. In 1860, he was elected president of the United States. "Some day I shall be president" - Lincoln.
Political skills
Lincoln was a skilled politician. He was admired for his warm storytelling and jokes. He was a man of principle and ideas. Though he lacked a formal education but he was a voracious reader and note worthy biographer. Lincoln was naturally prudent and cautious but he took bigger political risks.It is said by Lincoln that “Be with a leader when he is right, stay with him when he is still right, leave him when he is wrong.”
Delegation of responsibility and authority 
Lincoln delegated responsibility and authority. Lincoln knew the value of making requests and persuaded his subordinates to compromise on political/ administrative issues.  It is said by Lincoln that “I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them to real facts.” On empowerment, it is said by Lincoln that “You cannot build character and courage by taking away a man’s initiative and independence.”
Power of democracy
Lincoln understood the power of democracy to govern people of any country. Lincoln described government as one of the people (instituted by content), by the people (operate as democracy) and for the people (protecting their natural rights). It is also said by him that “The people will save their government, if the government itself will allow them.” He quoted that  “ Public opinion in this country is everything.”

Quotes of Abraham Lincoln for reflection 

"I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice."

"A house divided against itself cannot stand."

"Success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm."

No comments:

Post a Comment