President Lincoln’s Lessons on Leadership

President Lincoln’s Lessons on Leadership4 min read

Today, I’d like to talk a little bit about Abraham Lincoln. There was a great book published in 1992 called, Lincoln on Leadership. I would recommend it highly to any leader looking to establish additional leaders in their organization. Lincoln, unfortunately, presided over the most challenging time in our country, where our country was at war with itself. Lincoln’s biggest commitment was to find a general that can be swift and end the war quickly. Why? He wanted to avoid bloodshed on both sides.  

His first general, George McClellan, unfortunately, was a bit too cautious, as he always approached the battles with apprehensiveness. He was always waiting for more troops to arrive or actually planning an escape route in case things didn’t work out. There was one particular battle that McClellan’s army had Lee’s Army on the ropes, battered, and retreating. However, for some reason, he hesitated and let Lee’s Army slip away. Many have said the war could have been won in that one battle if he just persevered and pursued Lee’s battered army. Lincoln became infuriated and asked for his resignation shortly thereafter.  

From there, Lincoln went on to Ambrose Burnside who came in and approached his first battle very quickly. However, once he arrived, he delayed deploying his troops. This gave Lee’s Confederate Army time to get set and to repulse attacks from the union, which caused many Union dead. Lincoln obviously upset at the needless bloodshed asked for his resignation after that battle.  

Lincoln then went on to Joseph Hooker. Now, Hooker was aggressive. He felt that he could repulse the rebels crush them. However, he had a brigadier general that approached the battle with caution, and Hooker actually didn’t persevere and pursue Lee’s Army at the same time. Because of that, Lee’s Army slipped away and actually started their invasion of the north. Hooker embarrassed, actually handed his resignation to Lincoln after that battle.  

Then we go on to George Mead who became the general right before Gettysburg. There was a big battle of which the first day he was pushed back by the Confederates. The second day, the Union soldiers stood their ground and fought off the Confederates. On the third day, Lee ordered the most aggressive charge ever, where he lost 7,500 of his 15,000 men. Lee’s Army was on the ropes and battered. However, Mead didn’t pursue them further. As he was basking in his glory and celebrating his victory, Lee’s remaining Army once again slipped away. Mead handed in his resignation, soon as Grant became the general.  

Now Grant won battles. He persevered. He pursued Lee’s army. He wanted it over quickly and swiftly. One reporter called Grant a cigar-smoking alcoholic because he drank a lot. Lincoln hearing this, said he wins battles, send him a case of whiskey then.  

I share this history not only to celebrate President’s Day, and look at some of the great presidents that have served this country. But also, we, as leaders, as we’re building an organization, have to be very clear to give the opportunity to our generals, to our leaders, to step up and take the bull by the horns, as they say, and persevere, become their best, and lead their team to greatness.

Give them every ample opportunity to do so, however, if they don’t take advantage of it, and step up, at some point, it may be time to replace them. If you’re a leader of an organization, I strongly urge you, if you have not read this book, to give it a read. It’s an easy and enjoyable read. You’ll take a little history into partaking, but most importantly, it’ll get you really clear on how you, as a leader of an organization, need to go out there and find your Grant. 

COACH MICHAEL DILL is an Award-Winning Certified Business Coach, global speaker, and published author. He is a proud Action Coach Franchise partner as well as the President of Power & Ice Wealth Creation a strategic leadership company that works with business owners, leaders, teams, and entrepreneurs to both develop a systematized and structured organization while accelerating their mindset, efficiencies, and effectiveness to grow both personally and professionally to achieve extraordinary results. He brings more than 40 years of business and entrepreneurial experience in his leadership, team training, and mentoring practice. Businesscoachmichaeldill.com