Lead like Lincoln

We recently saw the movie, “Lincoln.” President Lincoln led his Cabinet and the government with a passion that compelled his team to follow him. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. The movie’s purpose is to show Lincoln’s dedication and drive to influence key stakeholders in Congress to pass the 13th Amendment, which freed slaves. It’s an intriguing study in leadership and getting things done.

As the President, Abraham Lincoln took authority and the responsibility to set the vision for the country and:

1. He passionately promoted his vision and agenda of what he thought was best for the country.

2. He understood the power of a strong team to support him.

He worked incredibly hard, both in person and through his team. He worked to find out what really mattered to people whose support he needed.

Lincoln was elected President in a time where the President didn’t hold that much power. Yet he came in and set the foundation for freeing the slaves and worked tirelessly to persuade the members of the Senate to pass the legislation. He marshaled the country through the Civil War and laid a plan to restore peace and bring the Confederate states back to the Union as quickly as possible in a dignified way.

Unfortunately he was not able to see that plan through. However, because of his courage in standing for what he thought was best for the country and his ability to get things done through other people, he is generally acknowledged as our nation’s greatest president.

Two things you can do to lead like Lincoln:

1. Monthly schedule a few hours away from the needs of your team and your customers (and cell phone and internet.) Ask yourself what your team needs. What vision do you need to carve out for yourself, your team and your company? What idea would make a dramatic difference in your business if you were to have the courage to suggest and implement?

2.  If you don’t know your team members well, schedule time with each of them to catch up on what they are doing and what’s important to them. It’s your turn to listen. Just knowing that you are interested increases the loyalty of your team members and builds their confidence. It’s not enough to just focus on work deliverables.

Lincoln’s closest advisors, the Cabinet members, were his team and he depended on them to carry out his vision for the nation. He knew them well and as a result, he knew how to work with them and persuade them.

It’s a big objective to lead like Lincoln. However, you can start by developing a vision that can rally your team and company to enthusiastic performance. For higher engagement, bring your vision to the team for feedback and collaboration. Then take a bold stand for that vision and work with your team to develop the plans to get there.

Kathy Garland specializes in business growth and leadership development. She guides her clients to turn challenges into opportunities that result in personal and professional growth. She speaks frequently on leadership and motivational topics. For more information, visit Kathy Garland International.