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Lincoln's Leadership Abilities Comparison and Contrast Essay

Pages:5 (1424 words)



Topic:Abraham Lincoln

Document Type:Essay


Compare and Contrast Paper on Abraham Lincoln on Leadership


Successful leadership, like any other endeavor, can be replicated. The recipe for such replication is the study and understanding of the leadership ideologies and approaches of successful leaders in the field of interest. One of the greatest leaders of modern civilization is Abraham Lincoln, and his method, life, and ideologies have been studied and proposed across multiple books and journals of leadership discipline. Lincoln on leadership is one of such studies that introduce the life of Abraham Lincoln as one of the most successful and memorable statesmen in American political history, and his success is examined under various contexts. Lincoln on leadership is the primary study for this paper; however, observations are made from other leadership literature to reinforce the author’s views on successful leadership, as illustrated through Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln on leadership: synopsis

The author, Phillips (1992), introduces Abraham Lincoln as one of the most influential and successful leaders of the 18th century, of the likes of Thomas Jefferson. It was quickly identified that the circumstances around Lincoln’s assumption of office served to excite his administrative and personal accomplishments to mythical proportions. In the first part, he assumed office at one of the most perilous political environments of American history, with certain states already seceded to the confederate party and others preparing to join. The major route of the Mississippi was hijacked, and the military was low on budget and workforce under the command of a seemingly unassuming general. Unemployment was on the rise due to the aftermath of the 1857 financial panic. Slavery was still campaigned for in border states with fierce abolitionists in the north: another recipe for a civil war, etc. Lincoln, himself, was an unimpressive lawyer and statesman at the time, and many regarded him as a pushover. However, through sheer will, deliberate development, and a hands-on/personal approach to political administration, Lincoln was able to inspire and motivate his cabinet, troops, and the entire nation to a common and achievable goal. He mastered the art of persuasion, instead of coercion, for including his subordinates in his vision for the nation. Abraham Lincoln was regarded for his attributes of honesty, integrity, astuteness, and empathy. These were largely developed in him by his upbringing. However, he learned other skills of oration, persuasion, etc. working professionally as a lawyer, and later a politician (Phillips, 1992).

Concepts for successful leadership: Abraham Lincoln

The entire lessons and ideas presented in the book can easily be categorized under the following headings: People, Character, Endeavour, and Communication.

· People

Abraham Lincoln influenced people. This is in line with one of the 21 fundamental laws of leadership illustrated by Maxwell (1998). Unlike the conventional idea of leadership at his time, Lincoln…

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…expected result, but he gave him a chance to prove himself anyway. It is also imperative to give credit when its due. As an innovator, Lincoln also fostered ideas in his followers. This is great for morale and improving the self-confidence of the followers, with a consequence of the overall betterment of the administration (Maxwell, 1998, pp. 76-81).

· Communication

As part of Lincoln’s developmental process, he improved his ability at writing and public or private speaking. This may be attributed in part to his initial profession as a lawyer, but it also developed throughout his political career. The significance of effective communication is in its ability to transform any opposition into a believer of a cause. This can be illustrated from Lincoln’s address on the issue of slavery, where he referenced the founding principles of liberty and equality, which is personal for every American. He communicated using whatever approach was necessary for a situation: mostly via anecdotes. He was able to inspire the troops, the people, and members of his cabinet, which shows the true mark of an effective leader.


Lincoln on leadership describes various leadership attributes that can be emulated from the great American statesman, Abraham Lincoln. As seen in the paper, the concepts of leadership proposed by the author have been found consistent with various other texts, especially the famous 21 laws of leadership. These…

Sample Source(s) Used


Maxwell, J.C. (2005). Ethics 101: What Every Leader Needs to Know. Center Street Publishing. ISBN: 9780446578097. Retrieved from:

Maxwell, J.C. (1998). The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. Thomas Nelson Publishing. ISBN: 9780785288374. Retrieved from:

Northouse, P.G. (2012). Leadership: Theory and Practice. California, USA: publications Inc. ISBN: 9781483317533.

Phillips, D.T. (1992). Lincoln on Leadership. New York, NY: Warner Books. ISBN: 9780446394598

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