Abraham Lincoln

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Abraham Lincoln

Why Do You Feel This Person Is a Leader (Opinion Based on Research)?

The most wise and luminous insight about leadership said Abraham Lincoln (1998), “In order to win a man to your cause, you must first reach his heart, the great high road to his reason”. However, Lincoln also was bold, determined, fearless, firm and very smart. He advocated progressive views, and he was not afraid of unpopular decisions. During the war, he did everything possible to win the war; he shut down the opposition newspapers, arrested the anti-war agitators, he advocated the military necessity with all means. Abraham Lincoln was truly loyal to his beliefs and democratic convictions. In 1864, Lincoln suspected that he would not probably re-elect for second term, but he was the one who was against postponing the elections. He had a way with people and was able to convince them. Abraham Lincoln lived in difficult and cruel times, underwent terrible ordeals and yet remained tolerant to mistakes of others (Goodwin, 2005). He was not always a tolerant man, in youth he loved to attack those who (in his opinion) deserved being criticized. However, being a wise man, he soon understood that it did no honor him. Since then, he like nobody reckoned that people deserve understanding of their needs and acknowledgement of their merits, and Lincoln made every effort to show people that they matter to him. Lincoln also was a good listener, as well as he was open to ideas that were different from his own. Despite his wild personal ambitions, Lincoln was a paragon of how leader should control his emotions and bad temper in order to not compromise the bigger purpose or perspective. He could understand the things that nobody else could understand. He was able to find in his heart strength to understand the motives of General Meade, who disobeyed his command to attack the Confederate Army near river in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Lincoln did that because he understood that this battle was lost but he still had a war to win (Gienapp, 2002).

What Is This Person’s Leadership Style (Supported with Theory from the Text)?

Abraham Lincoln’s leadership style was participative leadership. He presented his ideas to the people and was ready to get feedback from them. He had to remain final decision maker but he was always open to alternative suggestion. Lincoln created and maintained an environment, in which his ministers could openly disagree with him and proposed alternative ways of problem solving. For some time, he very carefully listened to the various opinions and, somehow, he knew exactly a moment when to stop the deliberations and make a final decision.

Lincoln was a charismatic communicator who masterfully conveyed his vision of free America to the broad masses of the population. He had to negotiate with public the necessity of sacrificing for short-term interests (for example, peace and welfare) for the sake of long-term brighter future. He was the best Commander in Chief for his army; he respected his generals and trusted them to their job even everyone condemned them for losses in war. In order to support and encourage worn-out and physically exhausted soldiers, Lincoln traveled huge distances as often as he could. He was capable to insist on his own way by not offending the other party. Lincoln was the first to acknowledge his own mistakes and required the same from his staff (to acknowledge their own mistakes). As Kearns Goodwin (2005) recollected, “Lincoln was able to acknowledge errors, learn from them, and then move on … In this way, he established a culture of learning in his administration”.  Lincoln always shared the credit for success with those who were also involved. In his own words: “path to success and ambition is broad enough for two”.

The Abraham Lincoln’s participative leadership style can be traced in all his decision and accomplishment, especially in the events of Civil War of 1861 – 1865 and final abolishment of slavery.

What Was/Is This Person’s Biggest Challenge as a Leader (Supported with Material from Articles, Book, etc.)?

At that same moment when Lincoln went against the Southerners on the slavery issue, his biggest challenge was in play. From the beginning of Lincoln presidency, the South undertook active moves in order to confront the beliefs and position of a new President. Seven Southern states declared that Lincoln is not a suitable President for them and declared Jefferson Davis as the President of seven Southern states. Lincoln tried to reason with Southerners and resolve the situation outside the war perspective. On the other hand, Lincoln truly believed that slavery has to be abolished because it conflicts with the idea of democracy in America. The Southerners could not be convinced to abolish the slavery through peaceful negotiations; they were certain about their military superiority and had no problem of resolving the conflict by military force. In April 1861, the militia of Confederate states occupied several forts and arsenals and started a civil war (Burlingame, 2008).

Abraham Lincoln had the second round of his biggest challenge as a leader in the summer of 1964. There was a period when Northerners were losing the war. One day, members of Lincoln’s political party stated that there is a hope for winning the war, so Lincoln had to compromise on slavery (Goodwin, 2005). Lincoln refused to compromise on slavery issue and insisted on continuing the war. In my opinion, that day Lincoln faced his biggest challenge as a leader of a free nation. Except his faith he had no guarantee that the war would go his way again. Thus, there was a much bigger chance of losing than winning. Lincoln understood that at that point by compromising on the slavery issue with Southerners, he still had leverage in negotiations, which he would lose by refusing to compromise in case of losing the war. Nevertheless, he decided to gamble on the faith in his just cause and sincere intentions. History showed that he was right.

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