Friday, August 28, 2015


Several years ago the WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) phenomenon was all the rage - Bible studies, t-shirts, books, wrist bands and multiple other items were marketed with the WWJD tag line.  With apologies to those who came up with the WWJD slogan, today's blog is all about What Would Lincoln Do?  Someone once asked me why I was such a Lincoln fan (the picture is from the top of the bookcase in my office) are four reasons I look to Abraham Lincoln as a guide to my leadership:

  1. He surrounded himself with people who were smarter than him...and with people who thought differently from him.  The story of building a cabinet of one's rivals still boggles my he was able to do that and bring them together for a common purpose is one of the great acts of leadership in all of history.
  2. He won others over...and he did so in a way that was winsome and caring.  His ability to invite others to visit with him (even those who were against him), his ability to ask questions and listen, and his ability to use humor in even the toughest situations all helped to bring others to join him in the fight to win the war,
  3. He understood (and was able to live with) the tension of waiting too long to make a decision and making a decision too quickly.  Having to ensure that the right general was in place at the right time was one of Lincoln's consistent issues, and waiting loo long or not long enough would haunt him day after day.  Personnel decisions are never an exact science - and are subject to the circumstances surrounding the time and place.  
  4. He did what he needed to do to win...even if it meant stretching his powers from time to time.  Many people will blame Lincoln for overextending his reach and grossly expanding the role of the office, yet he seemed to do what he thought was best for the country at that time.  He was willing to make the hard decision even if it meant being castigated by others. 
If you would like to learn more about what Lincoln would do, I suggest the following three volumes:
  • Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin
  • Tried By War: Lincoln as Commander in Chief by James McPherson
  • Giants: The Parallel Live of Frederick Douglas and Abraham Lincoln by John Stauffer

1 comment:

Billy Moyer said...

Great post, Don! I also have great admiration for Lincoln. Team of Rivals is one of my favorite books. I use a great discussion activity in some of my workshops using Lincoln. Remind me to share that with you next time I see you.