4 Leadership Lessons from Abraham Lincoln

An iconic photograph of a bearded Abraham Lincoln showing his head and shoulders.

Abraham Lincoln was an American statesman and lawyer who served as the 16th president of the United States (1861–1865). Lincoln led the nation through its greatest ethical, constitutional, and political crisis in the American Civil War. He defended the Union, abolished slavery, strengthened the federal government, and revived the U.S. economy.

Not too many souls will argue that the United States’ 16th president is among the most celebrated; the best. In nearly every poll of biographers, Abraham Lincoln stands among the top leaders in history. Whether for his charm, persuasive skills, his management qualities, or the fact that he was the first president to wear a beard, Lincoln gets lots of extraordinary marks.

Here are 4 leadership lessons from Abraham Lincoln

1. You can always learn things yourself. Lincoln was born in poverty in a log cabin and was raised on the frontier primarily in Indiana. He developed his own homeschool, using books given to him by his stepmother, acquaintances, and teachers, who were all aware of his thirst to read. He later began reading on law, learning enough to be accepted to the Illinois bar so that he could exercise law. He never learned a lesson in a law school and yet made it big. This is an important lesson in life. You don’t need to blame circumstances for lack of education or knowledge. You can lead even without a degree or money. All you need is a will power. 

2. Be Unique:  Lincoln, who was recognized for his honesty, stood up to his doubters and stuck by his faiths. That strategy didn’t always make him popular. They were even some columnists who made fun of his incapacity to “speak good grammar.” Like Lincoln, you may run into your share of critics. Stick to what you know is right — and follow the path you chose for yourself. Be Unique and people will remember you both as a leader and in life. 

3. Time is an illusion: Lincoln didn’t live to very old age, but the “life in his years” made an intense influence on the world. Are you making your years count? Are you transforming the world? You’re competent; if you’re able to understand and interpret these words, then you have the ability to make a profound impact, and that’s not just vague composition, it’s a very concrete reality, but will you seize it, will you buy it and make it “your” existence?

4. Humor is underestimated. Even under the most pressing and extraordinary circumstances, Lincoln was known to keep his sense of humor. During a discussion with Stephen A. Douglas during an Illinois state campaign, Lincoln’s rival attacked him of being two-faced. Mocking his own looks, Lincoln replied, “Honestly, if I were two-faced, would I be showing you this one?” When leading, don’t forget to relax and laugh every once in a while. It will ease the stress of not only you but also your team and co-workers.

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