Biography: Abraham Lincoln
Though many leaders have existed on this planet, very few pass the test of great leadership. Since being a leader is not just a matter of holding the top most position in a country, it entails other personal traits that reveal high levels of humanity and leading capacities. Among the many presidents that have ruled in the United States of America, everyone would attest to the fact that Abraham Lincoln was not just a mere President but is celebrated up to date as the America’s greatest President. He is considered a great leader because he practiced what he said and led by being a role model to his subjects. To him, leadership entails maintaining a clear vision, making sound decisions, as well as listening to the subjects.
Lincoln held dear to his leadership philosophies that molded him to be a superb leader. He believed that leadership encompasses social influence whereby one person solicits other people’s support in order to achieve a common task. It compelled him to involve his subjects in decision-making and eventually the rules passed would be adhered to because the people were involved in policymaking. It is contrary to some people’s beliefs that people are born with all the leadership skills they exhibit. Lincoln believed and exercised servant leadership by serving the people in the forefront. He is one among the very few leaders who should sympathy to the slaves and took part in abolishing slavery. He also believed in visionary leadership where focusing on the future and planning for it are the key features. He always thought the best of his country and this had a very positive impact on the America’s economy during Lincoln’s reign. It also led to strengthening of the national Government and modernized the economy (Thomas 32).
Unlike most leaders who have a royal descent, Lincoln was a self-made leader; he acquired most of his leadership skills through first hand life experiences. He was brought up in a very poor family and his early childhood life was full of misfortunes that kept him moving in search of better living standards (Thomas 11). He was self-educated as a lawyer in Illinois. It was after this that he became engaged in activities that contributed to a brisk modernization of the country such as canals, banks, tariffs and railroads which facilitated the construction of many factories.
Considering Lincoln’s leadership, it can generally be inferred that he adhered to the practices of good leadership as suggested by Kouzes Posner leadership framework (Posner and Kouzes 7). The framework suggests five main practices that a leader should embrace. Firstly, a leader should model the way by coming up with ways that people ought to be treated and the ways that the preset objectives will be achieved. Lincoln exercised this by being dedicated to the standards of equal rights, liberty, democracy, and nationalism. He also held a sensible view of reform, seeking to bring back together the nation hastily through a rule of generous reconciliation to wipe out the dangerous divisiveness witnessed at that time.
Secondly, he inspired a shared vision by passionately believing that he can achieve the preset goals. He was sufficiently confident in himself and his capacities to lure into his circle most of his rivals. Such rivals later turned out to be people of great importance in his leadership career. He made people see the need to unite and work harmoniously for a better tomorrow. The third practice of this model exhibited by Lincoln was challenging the process. He challenged the status quo seeking ways for improvement of their territory. He saw the need to improve the infrastructure bearing in mind the potential developments that come about as a result of infrastructural development. He indeed achieved this because later many factories were established (Burlingame 21).
Fourthly, Lincoln enabled other people through collaboration to come up with motivated teams. He was a master listener who listened to the views and opinions of other people. It did not necessarily mean that he was to change his ideas but he would simply listen to the varied ideas of others and then politely make his own decision. It made people around him feel free to express themselves without fear of retaliation. Finally, he encouraged other people’s hard work, bearing in mind that people need to share the benefits of their efforts and hence celebrated their accomplishments with them (Posner and Kouzes 8).
One of the traits that one would undoubtedly like to emulate from Lincoln is his personal qualities. He had outstanding traits that enabled him to befriend individuals who had previously opposed him to restore any hard feelings which, if untended, would have evolved to perpetual hostility; assume obligations for the subordinate’s failures, share glory with ease, and learn from mistakes. It is also inspirational that Lincoln did not practice blame game, like most leaders. Instead, he viewed the mistakes of his subjects as his own responsibility. Lincoln had no major vulnerabilities but he had his moods just like any other man. Sometimes he was jolly and genial but other times he was abstracted and absorbed. However, these alternations were demonstrations of his constitutional temper that came and disappeared irregularly. Such vulnerabilities were not any obstacle because Lincoln could handle them professionally and control them without making outbursts.
From Lincoln, I have learnt that the greatest element in leadership is integrity and strongly adhering to the principles. Despite the fact that he could compromise, people around him were assured that his basic principles would not change from one day to the other, and so should one be who aspires to be a great leader. It instigates confidence, dedication, and loyalty of all the people around.
To conclude, communication skills are paramount in any form of leadership. Just like Lincoln exhibited excellent communication skills, anyone aspiring to be a great leader should look up to him.
Burlingame, Michael. Abraham Lincoln: A Life. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2012. Print.
Posner, Barry, and James Kouzes. The Student Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI). New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2005. Print.
Thomas, Benjamin. Abraham Lincoln: A Biography. Illinois: SIU Press, 2008. Print.