This Wednesday, February 12th is President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, our 16th president and one of the iconic names that go down in the history of our presidency. Abraham Lincoln was an incredible, extraordinary man, but unfortunately faced much adversity in his life. He lost those closest to him at an early age. He suffered several defeats rising the ladder prior to actually winning the presidency, of our United States. Most importantly, the worst experience you could possibly preside over is the division of your country, putting families against families, brothers against brothers in the Civil War.
However, this man is known for greatness and most importantly he’s known as a great leader. This is an important lesson that we all need to understand. There are many books written on Abraham Lincoln, many biographies, however, there’s one in particular that I really took a liking to. That book is “Lincoln On Leadership.”
“Lincoln On Leadership” is for anyone who is building an organization or a team and are looking for the right people. Within the book, there are a few particular chapters that really stood out for me.
Chapter 1 is titled, Get Out of Your Office and Circulate with Your Troops. As a leader, you need to know your people. Abraham Lincoln took the time to go down in the fields and get to know the people fighting for our country. He made certain to know his generals personally so he would know how to motivate them in doing the work to accomplish the goals.
Chapter 10 incidentally is Set Goals and Be Results Oriented. The goals were to win the war and get it over fast. He wanted his generals to clearly understand this goal to achieve that result to save additional bloodshed.
Chapter 14, Influence People Through Conversation and Storytelling. Many time’s a client will share a challenge they have with a particular person on their team. After telling me the story, I would just say, “sit down and have a conversation with them.” Let them know what you expect from them, ask if there is anything you could do to help them. Sometimes we shy away from telling the individual what needs to be said, just have a conversation. In addition, when it comes to selling, storytelling is the best strategy. People remember stories, Lincoln became a great conversationalist and a great storyteller, and that helped him win the presidency.
Chapter 15 is very important for any organization to Preach a Vision and Continually Reaffirm It. In any organization, you’ve got to be clear on your vision, what the purpose is, and where you’re going. As you confirm this with your team, they will be able to help you in carrying out that vision.
Chapter 11 is what resonated with me most, the title is Keep Searching Until You Find Your Grant.
Abraham Lincoln was looking for the one general that would persevere through all the hardship and win the battles to get the war over quickly. He gave several generals the opportunity to press forward and win the battles, however, they always would cease advancing. Lincoln became frustrated with this until he finally found his Grant. Grant persevered, Grant advanced, Grant won battles.
Many people didn’t like Grant. Many said he was an alcoholic and drank lots of whiskey. Abraham Lincoln quoted “He wins the battles. If he likes to drink whiskey, find out his brand and send a barrel to all the other generals.”
As you’re building an organization, as you’re building divisions and you’re looking for those leaders to run your teams, be very conscious in looking for your Grant. Give them the opportunity to step up. However, they need to earn the right to be those leaders, to lead that team, and win those battles.
For any leader that you haven’t read this book, I encourage you to pick it up. I guarantee you’ll enjoy it