016: Engaging Lincoln Part 1: 5 Secrets Nearly Anyone Can Use to Be an Extraordinary Leader

by Joe Sherwood on December 13, 2012

Engaging Lincoln Part 1


This is the first of a two-part series examining the leadership of one of the top-two greatest presidents in U.S. history, Abraham Lincoln.  Jesse and Marty discuss the leadership principles followed by Lincoln during the Civil War to engage a severely divided nation.  Lincoln may have been a genius, but nearly anyone can use these five secrets to be an extraordinary leader:

  1. Get the right people on the bus, and then give them full authority to make decisions appropriate to their accountability
  2. Practice mutual respect and involvement
  3. Take blame and share credit
  4. Be flexible: use a compass to follow true-north, but navigate around the pond
  5. Focus on long-term results and communicate the vision continually

Resources Mentioned in This Episode

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Lincoln (2012) Directed by Stephen Spielberg, DreamWorks Studios

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Christopher Battles December 15, 2012 at 12:12am

Not much to add and the nails were shown and hit on the head. These things all need to be taught and done.

I see number five as one of the big things for businesses to succeed right now.
Thank you two.

K, bye


Jesse Lahey December 15, 2012 at 8:10am

Chris, it’s so easy for anyone to get focused on short-term profits or stock prices, or day-to-day problems and opportunities. It’s hard but vital to keep a longer-term perspective, and yet still respond when appropriate to the changing realities around us. Lincoln was able to identify a long-term vision that really mattered (the U.S. experiment in self-government), and as you said, the leaders of today’s businesses need to do that too. For example, before being acquired by Capital One, ING Direct’s purpose was “We lead Americans back to savings” … given how important it is for people who have personal savings, that is a purpose that would have motivated me if I were an ING Direct employee, and it would have kept me focused and energized despite changes in the economy and competitive environment.


Christopher Battles December 15, 2012 at 11:32am

I was unaware of Capital One acquiring ING. Without having something that stands out and is seen and reminded of often, the short term is the only focus and businesses which exist because “they can” for awhile loose momentum. Just now I am picturing a train as it the train was alive and going over snowy mountains. If it only had the focus of surviving it might just stop in a tunnel and wait things out. The problem is there are people on board and they have places to be and the train has other trips to make. With a bigger focus the train needs to go on.

Society seems to be going the way of many businesses and looking short term in politics and business wise. It is the message that the Dave Ramsey’s and Andy Andrews’ and you and many others are spreading which is needed.

Thank you for the insight.

K, bye


Wcitro December 19, 2012 at 11:56am

Good information and great site ! I have bookmarked for future reference !


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