About Lincoln Daily Management
With the hundreds of blogs and books out there about leadership and management, you’d think there would be no shortage of organizations that are led and managed well.
Well, that’s not the case.
Because I’m one of the millions who suffer in systems of bad management, I went looking for somebody who ultimately did it better than anyone; someone who was proven; someone who just wasn’t hypothesizing; someone from whom we could all learn practical ideas. I ended up going full circle to one of the first leaders we are ever taught about in grammar school: Abraham Lincoln.
I take nothing away from my fellow leadership and management writers. I follow lots of them and gain much from them. They have plenty of great ideas – and many of them were implemented successfully by none other than our sixteenth president.
Why should you follow?
Using Lincoln as a model, we can become better leaders of people: parents can use these skills with their children, teachers with their students, foremen with their laborers, CEO’s with their employees, coaches with their teams, and political leaders with their people.
Anybody who manages people – which is virtually all of us to some extent – should be able to derive concrete advice from Lincoln.
But how can we say that he is the world’s most proven executive?
With no disrespect intended to the millions of other great private or public managers of people the world has produced, Lincoln stands alone as an expert because of the wide variety of personalities he dealt with in the extraordinary, dire circumstances in which he proved himself successful.
If we listened even a little in school, we know the beginning of his management career: Several states began to break away from the United States because of Republican success in the election of 1860, fearful that the eradication of their beloved slavery was about to begin.
Yet Lincoln could not count on the Northern states for automatic support – he had no mandate, being elected with just about 40% of the popular vote; and many in the North were quite content to let their southern brothers and sisters go their own way, taking their evil slavery with them.
Unlike today when the President-elect waits for a little over two months to take office, Lincoln was forced to stand by powerlessly for one-third of a year while his nation was tearing itself apart, while traitorous acts were being committed inside the buildings of Washington D.C., and while a lame-duck President James Buchanan acted even more lame than his usual self.
Literally minutes after his inauguration, and well before his entire cabinet was confirmed, the crisis of a near defenseless Fort Sumter under siege off the coast of South Carolina was dropped in his lap; not to mention that seven more states threatened secession.
After surviving the initial crisis, he was still faced with all-out rebellion from the South, he had to rally his countrymen, organize and build an army that at that point numbered a mere 17,000 men spread from coast to coast, put down a mini-rebellion in the border state of Maryland, defend Washington D.C. from becoming the new Confederate capital, and do it all without Congress being in session.
Afterward, Lincoln was challenged with devastating defeats in the face of over-confident hopes in the North, took on a self-important, self-aggrandizing general who practically refused to engage in war, and all the while walked a tight rope between freeing slaves and losing the support of a coalition of Northerners who refused to fight a war based on slavery.
As he was doing all of this, the greatest military powers in the world at the time, Great Britain and France, considered joining in the fight – for the other side.
And just as things finally started to look better, they looked worse: The Union Army again stalled, while Lincoln’s own Secretary of the Treasury looked like he may snatch the Presidency away from him.
Meanwhile, Democrats and some members of his own party called for his ouster, charging that the war was being fought on the grounds of freeing the slaves – or that it was not.
Through his leadership, Lincoln saved the United States, as well as the idea that all could be born equal with the same hopes and dreams as any other born into any privilege, and that “government of the people, by the people, and for the people [should] not perish from the Earth.”
While accomplishing these feats, he abolished slavery for all time, cutting out the cancer that had embedded itself in our nation long before its birth.
Lincoln obviously didn’t take a management course with only one year of formal schooling, and only managed a two-man law office before becoming President; what he knew was what he read (and he read widely and constantly), as well as what he experienced in life.
Critics of this blog may charge that the management and leadership skills proposed here are actually political skills, reserved for those who we “elect”; that Lincoln was a master politician and that these skills employed by him were nothing more than any politician would use today, or any other time, to get what he wanted.
There is no denying that many of the skills presented herein are political skills that could just as easily be presented in a book on Lincoln’s political prowess.
However, the word politic, from the Greek word politikos, means for, of, or relating to citizens; thanks to Lincoln, in part, every human being is now a citizen.
Therefore, all of the skills presented in this blog can be applied to all humans whenever their situation demands that they persuade and influence other people.