Table of Contents
Abraham Lincoln served as the sixteenth American President. The Republican president served under extremely trying times. He was the president when African Americans were struggling for freedom from slavery. President Abraham Lincoln played a critical role in the emancipation of slaves (Lincoln & Distinti, 2011). Over the years, many scholars have sought to analyze the outstanding leadership style of Abraham Lincoln. Undoubtedly, he is one of the leaders who encountered difficult situations and was able to make rational decisions as a leader. It is apparent that modern-day leaders can learn important lessons from Abraham Lincoln’s legacy. During difficult times, Abraham Lincoln did not panic, but opted to embrace the most efficacious leadership strategy to address the situation (McCombs, 2013). Many scholars have recognized his as a transformational leader who inspired his followers. His democratic style of leadership and outstanding attributes formed the basis of his unique leadership. This paper will explore the Abraham Lincoln’s leadership style, highlighting his dominant style and unique attributes.
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Overview of Abraham Lincoln and Key Analysis Questions
Abraham Lincoln became the American President in 1861 during a critical period characterized by the civil war. Abraham Lincoln faced the most difficult time as an American President due to the dilemmas of the civil war (Phillips, 2017). Notably, the civil war involved the struggle of African Americans to gain freedom from slavery and to be able to enjoy equal rights as other American citizens. It is unfortunate that Abraham Lincoln did not have any model of an American President from whom he could learn important lessons (Schneider, 2007). During his inauguration, many of the states had threatened to move away from the Union a factor that represented a powerful resistance. After his inauguration, the situation worsened as more states withdrew from the union and the civil war became a full-blown crisis that would last for four years. During these years, Abraham Lincoln demonstrated some of the outstanding attributes of a national leader.
In 1862, Abraham Lincoln had to make a critical decision on whether to allow the government to fail or whether had to act in agreement with the constitution. As a president, he had every intention to save the Union. However, he needed to preserve the constitution as well. It was not an easy decision for Abraham Lincoln and the decisions he made attracted some criticism from other politicians (Field, 2011). Abraham Lincoln made it clear that preserving the constitution was an important aspect at that point. In the four years that he served as president, he demonstrated unique leadership attributes of situational and transformational leadership (Schneider, 2007). The following key questions will govern the analysis of President Abraham Lincoln’s leadership.
- What was President Abraham Lincoln’s dominant/long-term leadership style?
- What was President Abraham Lincoln’s short-term leadership style?
- What was the impact of his leadership styles?
- What were the outstanding characteristics of Abraham Lincoln as a leader?
- What key attributes, qualities, skills, and traits did President Abraham Lincoln exhibit?
- What were the key attributes of President Abraham Lincoln’s followership creation?
Abraham Lincoln’s Leadership Style
Abraham Lincoln exhibited different aspects of transformational leadership. Notably, transformational leadership has become one of the popular leadership theories in the twenty-first century. Transformational leadership represented Abraham Lincoln’s long-term leadership style. Many scholars have sought to define the key element of transformational leadership. A transformational leader can register idealized influence on the followers due to his outstanding moral and personal values (McCombs, 2013). Moreover, transformational leaders exhibit a remarkable level of purpose, determination, and confidence. The second element of transformational leadership is the ability to deliver inspirational motivation. A transformational leader can develop a vision and inspire the followers to embrace the vision and work on implementing it (Lincoln & Distinti, 2011). The leader must have effective strategies for maintaining high levels of motivation among the followers. Additionally, transformational leadership involves intellectual stimulation. The leader must be able to empower and encourage the followers to demonstrate high levels of innovation and creativity. The fourth element of transformational leadership is an individualized consideration which involves giving special attention to the individual needs of followers. Based on these four elements, it is possible to critically analyze Abraham Lincoln’s leadership style and determine whether he was an effective transformational leader.
President Abraham Lincoln was able to exhibit a remarkable level of idealized influence. Notably, his values as a leader served as an example for his followers. Individuals who interacted with him have cited that he was an honest man. Through honesty and integrity, he was able to set an example for his followers. His value-based influence was evident in many of his speeches. He established relationships in which he reinforced his values and standards of leadership. He exhibited remarkable levels of openness and honesty a factor that explains why he was a subject of admiration even among his enemies (McCombs, 2013). Abraham Lincoln was able to earn the trust of his followers based on the manner in which he established relationships. Most of his speeches such as the emancipation proclamation had a strong fundamental basis for values such as morality and justice (Lincoln & Distinti, 2011). Abraham Lincoln condemned the immorality and injustice governing slavery. Additionally, Abraham Lincoln was able to deliver inspirational motivation to his followers. He had a strong vision for America, and many of his followers considered that vision compelling. A leader who has a strong vision exhibits self-confidence, determination, unwavering conviction, strong values, and a high-level purpose. Such a leader can instill hope in others and demonstrate a measure of consistency in his behavior.
President Abraham Lincoln exhibited remarkable levels of confidence, determination, and an inner conviction that he openly reaffirmed in the public platform. During his inauguration, Abraham Lincoln delivered a powerful speech in which he set the record straight that he would uphold the universal law as well as the powers of the constitution. He had a notable attachment with his duty and exhibited personalized leadership. At different incidents, Abraham Lincoln demonstrated that he had a significant purpose for America and was willing to support his followers so that they could achieve the vision. His ethical and moral standards inspired many people to believe in his vision for America. Abraham Lincoln sought to empower his followers through intellectual stimulation (McCombs, 2013). He introduced training that would help Americans serving in the army to gain new skills and competencies. He was well aware that many of the soldiers lacked outstanding competencies that prepared them for the battle (Lincoln & Distinti, 2011). For this reason, he emphasized the need for a diverse form of training that would empower the soldiers to demonstrate a higher level of competence. He made appointments based on a person’s creativity and innovation. He believed that there was a need for talented people to hold positions in the government.
Throughout his leadership, Abraham Lincoln sought to establish a favorable environment that would promote learning. Abraham Lincoln also demonstrated individualized consideration in his leadership. He gave specific attention to the unique needs of his followers and was willing to provide them with the motivation they needed so that they would embark on achieving the greater purpose (Phillips, 2017). These elements of Abraham Lincoln’s leadership demonstrated that he was able to register a remarkable level of impact on his followers. He was able to inspire the followers in various ways. Before he became the president, he had been running for the offices of a senator and had expressed interest in serving as the vice president (Schneider, 2007). Unfortunately, he had lost all these positions but did not give up. His ventures as a person evidenced that he was strong-willed and that he did not give up easily. Background information surrounding his presidency reveals that he lacked experience and he became president based on the minority vote. Despite these challenges, he exhibited commendable determination in his efforts to make America a better place.
Abraham Lincoln also exhibited a situational leadership as a short-term leadership style. Situational leadership has its basis in the fact that every situation faced by a leader requires a different approach. Situational leadership involves a significant level of flexibility because a leader must critically analyze each situation and opt for the most effective style (Field, 2011). Situational leadership comprises four major leadership styles; namely, directing, coaching, support, and delegating. The directive leadership style requires the leader to provide specific instruction to the followers on how to complete a certain task. A leader following situational leadership must be able to make important decisions concerning the competences of followers (Schneider, 2007). The most imperative elements of consideration include the task maturity and the psychological maturity. Task maturity denotes the followers’ capability to complete a certain task. On the other hand, the psychological maturity surrounds an individual’s willingness to take up the task. The leader should be able to adjust the leadership style depending on the maturity levels of the followers.
The coaching style involves a significant level of giving directions and a high level of providing support. The supportive style focuses on providing the follower with the relevant levels of support and limited levels of instructions (McCombs, 2013). For individuals with high maturity levels, the leader may opt to delegate responsibilities. The delegating leadership style is less supportive and does not include the provision of direct instructions. The leader must critically assess the competences of the followers and determine the most appropriate style in agreement with commitment and competence levels (Lincoln & Distinti, 2011). For example, if a follower lacks the necessary competencies to carry out a task and has limited willingness to focus on the task, then the leader must use a directive style of leadership. On the other hand, a leader can use the delegating leadership style for followers who are highly competent and who exhibit a significant level of commitment (McCombs, 2013). President Abraham Lincoln exhibited different elements of situational leadership. He delegated tasks and responsibilities to individuals in his cabinet. He was sure that the cabinet members had the commitment and competence to complete those tasks successfully.
On the other hand, he opted to use the coaching style when dealing with followers who had some issues. Through coaching, he provided both direct instructions and high levels of support to his followers. In some situations, he gave specific instructions when he was sure that the follower lacked both competence and willingness (McCombs, 2013). For instance, in his dealings with Salmon Chase, who served as the secretary of the treasury, Abraham Lincoln used different leadership styles based on the level of maturity that the secretary exhibited. At first, the secretary registered commendable levels of competence and commitment. As a result, Abraham Lincoln used the delegating leadership style which was the most appropriate in that situation. However, the situation changed significantly and the secretary’s commitment reduced. President Abraham Lincoln had to embrace a directive style to ensure that the secretary completed the various tasks (Lincoln & Distinti, 2011). When dealing with the generals of the army, President Abraham Lincoln applied both delegation and direction. He was able to assess the maturity of the generals in different situations and opt for the most effective leadership styles. He was patient with the generals, but some situations forced him to use the directive style so that they could complete the tasks.
The Impact of President Abraham Lincoln’s Long-term and Short-term Leadership Styles
As highlighted above, transformational leadership represented Abraham Lincoln’s long-term leadership style. His application of transformational leadership registered a significant impact on the followers (Phillips, 2017). Notably, he was able to empower and inspire his followers each time he applied transformational leadership. He was able to develop a greater vision for the United States, and he focused on inspiring his followers to believe in the vision (Schneider, 2007). Transformational leadership promotes creativity among the followers. It reassures the followers that they can maximize their potential and achieve the identified vision. Through transformational leadership, President Abraham Lincoln was able to bring together his follower so that they could achieve a greater vision.
Notably, transformational leadership registers positive outcomes if the leader focuses on meeting the needs of the followers and inspiring them to believe in the greater vision. Based on Abraham Lincoln’s application of transformational leadership, it was explicit that he achieved positive outcomes (Schneider, 2007). Transformational leadership helps in registering higher levels of satisfaction, commitment, and motivation among followers. When used appropriately, transformational leadership ensures that a leader can enhance the motivational levels of his followers and ensure that they are more productive. President Abraham Lincoln was able to achieve much of this among his follower (McCombs, 2013). At different instances, his followers demonstrated a greater commitment to his vision. Moreover, he was able to register higher productivity levels among the generals and cabinet ministers.
On the other hand, President Abraham Lincoln also registered a significant level of impact through his application of situational leadership. He had a better control of the various situations by applying different leadership styles. Through his determination of the maturity of followers, he was able to achieve a better understanding of how much the followers could achieve (Field, 2011). As a result, he knew when they needed reinforcement so they could achieve certain goals. The flexibility to use various leadership styles in different situations ensured that President Abraham Lincoln relied on the most appropriate style depending on the urgency of the matter (Schneider, 2007). He did not give anything to chance, but opted to take control of every situation using the most appropriate leadership style.
Characteristics of Abraham Lincoln as a Leader
Emotional intelligence is one of the concepts that have gained popularity in the modern day, and that helps in defining the character of leaders. Emotional intelligence denotes a leader’s capability to critically assess his or her emotions and register a high level of self-awareness (McCombs, 2013). Based on such awareness, the leader should be able to exhibit a measure of self-regulation, social skills, and empathy when dealing with different followers. For this reason, emotional intelligence has five unique components; namely, self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skill. Self-awareness denotes a person’s ability to recognize personal emotions, strengths, weaknesses, dominant values, goals, as well as potential drivers (Lincoln & Distinti, 2011). Individuals who have self-awareness are likely to exhibit confidence and appreciate constructive criticism. They are more likely to conduct a realistic self-assessment and identify the areas that they need to improve. Self-regulation involves a person’s ability to control disruptive emotions and impulses.
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Individuals with self-regulation exhibit trustworthiness, integrity, and are more likely to be comfortable in an environment of change. The third component of motivation denotes a person’s drive to achieve certain goals and is evident in a leader’s optimism and passion for new challenges (McCombs, 2013). The component of empathy surrounds a person’s ability to consider the feelings of others during the decision-making process. Empathetic people are sensitive to the needs of others and take the time to develop their followers. The last component of emotional intelligence is a social skill that enables leaders to establish and manage their relationships with others (Lincoln & Distinti, 2011). Leaders with social skills are persuasive and demonstrate expertise in leading teams. They are also in a better position to enhance networking and to advocate for change. Emotional intelligence has received appraisal as the main determinant of an effective leader. For this reason, it is imperative to analyze the character of Abraham Lincoln based on the different components of emotional intelligence.
Abraham Lincoln exhibited a significant level of self-awareness. Particularly, he knew his weaknesses and strengths and was confident when exploring new possibilities. Through his self-awareness, he was able to appreciate different forms of criticism from friends and enemies. Additionally, President Abraham Lincoln demonstrated self-awareness based on some statements in his various speeches (Phillips, 2017). He made it clear that he was self-critical and did not explore issues that he was unable to address effectively. During his speech on reconstruction, he made it clear that he did not want any provocation from reports that he was unable to handle (Schneider, 2007). Similarly, he exhibited a great measure of self-regulation. He took the time to meditate and develop effective responses to different issues that he was facing.
Abraham Lincoln knew that he was leading a country in crisis and that it was imperative for him to regulate his emotions. For this reason, he often wrote letters that he never delivered as he struggled to find the most effective response. Such levels of self-regulation were remarkable and marked a significant level of success in his leadership (Schneider, 2007). Concerning the component of motivation, he openly declared his commitment to achieving a higher purpose and highlighted his drive towards the process of emancipation. Undoubtedly, Abraham Lincoln was empathetic and made decisions with a critical consideration of the needs and emotions of others (McCombs, 2013). Particularly, he took the time to consider the welfare of different people before making certain decisions as a president. The manner in which he dealt with African Americans and their commitment to be free individuals demonstrated Abraham Lincoln’s emotional intelligence.
In many instances, Abraham Lincoln was able to reason from the perspective of the African Americans who needed to enjoy their freedom. For this reason, he was more committed to the journey of emancipation because he was aware of their struggle. His social skills were commendable because he persuaded his followers to believe in the emancipation process (Field, 2011). Individuals who interacted with him noted his commitment to establishing favorable relationships with others, and he exhibited his ability to lead people during the change process (Schneider, 2007). His speeches on emancipation were highly persuasive as he called upon the white population to recognize the need for preserving the constitution and allowing African Americans to be free.
A critical analysis of Abraham Lincoln’s character reveals that emotional intelligence was one of the defining aspects of his leadership. In difficult situations, he relied on his emotional intelligence and was able to find a way out. Although he lacked experience in political positions, he was able to apply emotional intelligence and resolve issues that affected Americans (McCombs, 2013). His emotional intelligence helped him to understand the needs of different people that he was supposed to lead. Emotional intelligence helped him to deal with difficult situations such as war and emerged a successful leader. Other characteristics of President Abraham Lincoln included integrity and compassion that he exhibited on various occasions (Lincoln & Distinti, 2011). His sense of purpose was apparent, and his values and standards helped him during critical decision-making processes.
Abraham Lincoln’s moral knowledge served to empower him when making decisions regarding the war. He utilized his authority in an acceptable without abusing his powers. Through the process of delegation, he encouraged his followers to be worthwhile participants in his leadership (McCombs, 2013). He earned the trust of people because he listened to them and showed interest in their affairs. These characteristics were of critical importance in the leadership of President Abraham Lincoln (Lincoln & Distinti, 2011). His reputation for integrity and honesty, as well as compassion and empathy, have been described by different scholars. In different speeches, Abraham Lincoln emphasized that he did not support malice and that he applied charity for all the people. Such declaration reinforced his strong commitment to a set of personal values that defined him as a leader.
Abraham Lincoln’s Qualities, Traits, and Skills
Abraham Lincoln exhibited a diverse range of skills, traits, and qualities that made him one of the most influential leaders in American history. Some of his unique leadership qualities and skill included integrity, honesty, compassion, determination, loyalty, tolerance, trust, strategic grasp, effective communication, and the ability to walk the job (Phillips, 2017). His integrity and honesty were evident in actions and speeches. The concepts of integrity and honesty have received attention with emphasis on how these qualities influenced his leadership (Schneider, 2007). Abraham Lincoln’s determination was unquestionable. He had vied for various positions and failed in the past, but that did not deter him from becoming the American President (Field, 2011). His losses only motivated him to work harder and to believe in his vision for America. Abraham Lincoln was able to take risks as a leader and prepare for the consequences of the decisions that he made.
Abraham Lincoln led America during the civil war and the dilemmas that defined the period compelled him to take certain risks. Some of the risks concerned his willingness to challenge the superiority issue that the white population had promoted (Field, 2011). Abraham Lincoln exhibited loyalty to his followers and supporters. His efforts of providing support to different subordinates and followers so that they would complete their tasks effectively. He was tolerant and patient, especially when dealing with the generals who had different levels of maturity (McCombs, 2013). He tolerated their mistakes and sought to lay a good example for the generals. As a leader serving during a critical period, Abraham Lincoln was able to demonstrate his unique ability to have a strong strategic grasp (Schneider, 2007). He was well aware that different situations needed attentiveness, and he relentlessly analyzed such situations and made strategic decisions. His communication skills were remarkable because he was a good listener and he persuaded the people to believe in the greater vision that he had for the United States.
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Through his communication skills, he encouraged his followers to appreciate the constitution and work on preserving it. When facing the most trying moments in his leadership, President Abraham Lincoln was able to maintain his cool despite the pressure he was experiencing (Field, 2011). Abraham Lincoln knew that he had numerous rivals and needed to deal with them effectively without compromising his vision. For this reason, he exhibited conflict resolution skills that registered positive outcomes. He was able to persuade his enemies and make them believe that peace was important (Schneider, 2007). In his victory speech, he expressed his commitment to promoting bonds of affection amongst Americans. When faced with defeat, Abraham Lincoln embraced frustration and rose to achieve more. These traits define an exemplary leader in the American history.
Although the aspect of risk-taking is a desirable leadership trait, President Abraham Lincoln took critical risks that challenged his commitment to democratic leadership. There were instances when he acted without the approval of the Congress and other cases in which he did not give attention to Supreme Court findings (McCombs, 2013). He intervened in military planning and campaigns, an aspect that was beyond his scope of authority. He went further to declare a state of rebellion and ordered the arrest of thousands without the necessary procedures of trial before detainment (Lincoln & Distinti, 2011). These decisions represented risk-taking habits that compromised the authority of the constitution. He justified his radical measures with the Presidential Proclamation. Abraham Lincoln acted beyond the limits of presidential powers and authority. He served as the head of the administrative, political, as well as the military department, duties that did not belong to the president.
It was apparent that President Abraham Lincoln was determined to take risks that were not commonplace in the American presidency. Although risk-taking can be a positive attribute in leadership, it can also be a disruptive aspect. Critics argued that President Abraham Lincoln acted as a dictator, despite his commitment to transformational leadership (McCombs, 2013). However, these risks defined some of his outstanding weaknesses as a leader. Some scholars have justified his actions based on the pressure he was facing and the fact that the country needed a decisive leader who could make critical decisions (Field, 2011). President Abraham Lincoln was facing extraordinary situations defined by the civil war. For this reason, he argued that he took unconstitutional measures with good intentions of preserving the nation. Moreover, President Abraham Lincoln took some decisions because he lacked competent senior commanders in war (Lincoln & Distinti, 2011). He was highly frustrated and decided to take strategic measures that would register the outcomes that he wanted. However, Abraham Lincoln provided unwavering support to the Generals an aspect that demonstrated his commitment to lead the people well. He was always visible in every aspect of his leadership and was resent to motivate his followers.
Undoubtedly, these qualities have been of interest to many scholars who have sought to analyze Abraham Lincoln’s leadership. As a leader, he was determined to stick to fundamental goals even if that involved a change of strategic moves. For instance, he was determined to promote emancipation irrespective of the barriers that prevented the achievement of such a goal (Phillips, 2017). He created a strong vision surrounding freedom and inspired his followers to believe in the freedom of both Whites and African Americans. President Abraham Lincoln promoted the rights of the people, despite the racial differences (Field, 2011). Notably, such a commitment showed that he was a servant leader who was willing to make sacrifices for his people and to establish a system that promoted the rights of all individuals (Schneider, 2007). He emphasized the need for people to enjoy their rights in different speeches and his actions conformed to his communicated vision. Freedom and justice were some of the defining themes that characterized his vision for America.
Followership creation is one of the important aspects of successful leadership. Four attributes allow leaders to create a strong followership. Trust is the leading attribute and the most critical determinant of followership. A leader must demonstrate honesty, transparency, and open communication for him to earn a strong followership (Schneider, 2007). Followers only trust a leader based on his level of honesty and transparency. If a leader openly shares challenges and the need to achieve certain goals with followers, he eventually earns their trust. The second attribute is stability. Leaders who enjoy strong followership are the ones with the capability to remain calm and confident irrespective of the pressure or challenges they face (McCombs, 2013). Demonstrating compassion is also an important aspect that determines the level of followership. If a leader relentlessly demonstrates a commitment to understand the needs of people and show them empathy, he is likely to win many followers.
Hope is the fourth attribute of strong followership. A leader must be able to demonstrate a non-wavering belief that it is possible to realize a certain vision. President Abraham Lincoln exhibited these four attributes of creating a strong followership (Schneider, 2007). He was able to earn the trust of his followers by remaining honest and transparent. His followers openly associated him with honesty and integrity and were able to trust him. Moreover, he was compassionate and empathetic and demonstrated unwavering support for his followers. When the generals were facing challenges, he gave them unconditional support and was tolerant of them (Field, 2011). He exhibited stability because he maintained calmness when facing adversity. He never lost his confidence despite the difficult times that America was facing. Abraham Lincoln maintained hope that America would enjoy freedom and justice soon. These four attributes explain why he had a strong followership.
President Abraham Lincoln exhibited desirable leadership attributes that led to his success as an American President. His commitment to transformational leadership explains why he was able to inspire his followers and motivate them towards the achievement of a greater vision (McCombs, 2013). Moreover, he exhibited expertise in using situational leadership that allowed him to apply the most appropriate leadership style depending on the maturity levels of his followers. He exhibited emotional intelligence as the most outstanding characteristic of his leadership. His primary leadership attributes and qualities included compassion, honesty, determination, effective communication, strategic grasp, patience, trust, and loyalty (Lincoln & Distinti, 2011). He was able to create a strong followership through his compassion, hope, stability, and empathy. President Abraham Lincoln has received attention as one of the influential leaders who faced difficult situations, but was still able to remain committed to a greater vision of promoting freedom and justice.
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