Monday, November 10, 2008


"Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing." -Abraham Lincoln

There are many distinguished leaders in the world who are remembered by the people. But it is the Abraham Lincoln who stands unique in many ways with his leadership traits and skills. The Abraham Lincoln proved to the world that leaders can be respected and revered irrespective of their nationalities whenever they champion for certain values and principles. He championed for the cause of ending slavery and he became the President of America during the most turbulent times where union of America was under great threat. He showed and proved to the world that leader is a leader irrespective of his or her cultural, national boundaries. In this context let us look at the lessons that we can learn from Lincoln’s leadership.

The Lincoln realized the importance of listening skill and he gave the highest priority in his leadership style. He listened about 67 percent by controlling his internal conversation and spoke only 33 per cent. It is the secret for his success in winning many of the debates. This is obvious from his quotation, “When I am getting ready to reason with a man, I spend one-third of my time thinking about myself and what I am going to say and two-thirds about him and what he is going to say.” He realized the collective efforts are better than individual efforts and put efforts to align the individual efforts of all of his followers to reach the goals. He was passionate in his work and was unmindful of who gets credit. He was never an opportunist as he maintained his relations without expecting anything from others. It is his relations and network that led him to recognize his candidature for Presidential post in the Republican Party.

He was modest and unassuming. When he first assumed president ship one of the members who hailed from aristocratic background commented by saying that his father used to make shoes as a cobbler. Lincoln did not forget his humble origins and he took pride by saying that there was no complaint against his father in the workmanship.
Whatever he worked he did with perfection and involvement. He did not mind against the background of his father but defended and took pride in the craftsmanship of his father. This shows how humble and how simple Lincoln was.

As we know that trust begets trust, he believed in trusting the people as a result his followers supported him wholeheartedly. At the same time he demonstrated that he was trustworthy and he never let down his people. He proved his integrity and character many times and the same was displayed even though he was under test of time. That earned him good will and support, and people began reposing confidence in his leadership.

He was a very good role model for his followers. He practiced what he preached and there was no credibility gap. Besides, his humble origins helped to establish his initial credentials followed by his practical and realistic personal example and performance. All these things have contributed for becoming an ideal role model for others.

He was prompt in attending the meeting and was always punctual throughout his life. He knew the value of time and respected others’ time as he was a very good time manager. He managed his daily life through proper time management by allocating priorities.

He never allowed himself to be dominated by others nor did he dominate others. He neither showed his aggression nor submission during his leadership, and he proved that it was the assertiveness that is essential for any leader. He knew the art of saying ‘No’ firmly but politely.

He believed in sticking to his commitment as commitment is the key to leadership. Whatever the promises he made he delivered. He neither promised more nor delivered less nor did he back out of from his commitments despite several odds stacked against him.

All along the life he was a continuous learner and he studied of his own out of his passion to learn. He was self educated. He borrowed books from others and read. As an youngster, he read many books such as biographies of Washington, selections from Franklin, Demosthenes, Cicero and also the passages from Henry V and Hamlet. In the case of Lincoln, it was a life long learning from tragedy to triumph.

Taking continuous feedback helps the leaders to improve themselves. It is through this feedback that the leaders realize their weaknesses and try to improve upon. Lincoln strongly believed in taking continuous feedback from all especially from his critics. He felt that friends may not correct much but it was the critics who provided the inputs for his improvement all along his life.

Lincoln happened to be the first President from the Republican Party. He built the party brick by brick with his ideas and insights. Lincoln was not a slave but was against slavery and also a servant leader who served the cause of his people and who served for what was right and not who was right thereby becoming a Legend in the American history.

Lincoln’s passion, vision and mission are priceless and timeless. He is always remembered for exemplary character and integrity. He will be remembered forever as an exceptional leader in the history of mankind. He motivated and inspired everyone that anything and everything is possible in the world through his quote, “That some achieve great success, is proof to all that others can achieve it as well.”

Cutting across our nationalities, let us all salute this highly motivated and inspirational legendary leader – Abraham Lincoln, on the eve of bicentennial birth celebrations to be held in Feb 2009.



Anonymous said...

Excelent work Mr.Rao Sir.,
first time i am visiting your blog and really i got leadership wealth knowledge from your post about Mr.Lincoln.
Time/commitment/Decision/Courage /listeening skill Management


Irena said...

That helped me a lot on my report I am doing on Abe. It told me more about his leadership qualities and traits. Thanks. :)