How to Think Like Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln is arguably one of the greatest leaders our country has ever had, and possibly one of the greatest the world has ever seen.
Not only did Lincoln show tons of wisdom during his presidency, he was an example of how to lead and make decisions. When it comes to making those decisions, if we can learn to think like Lincoln, we can become great leaders too!
Have you ever made a snap decision that turned out to be the wrong one? I have. As I wrote about earlier, we make quick decisions all the time. We assess threats, read situations, and hedge our bets that we'll make the right choices.
Though the world is moving extremely fast, there is a better way to make decisions. If we can learn to think like Abraham Lincoln, and use his methods, we can become wiser and lead our teams better.
Making decisions takes both will and ability. Deciding can be hard, but acting can be even harder. The will to stand up and lead your team takes guts. It takes ability to be effective. If you're going to become a great leader, you must have both.
Leadership is only possible if you have both the skill and the will to influence others. Lincoln had both. He had the wisdom and the will, and his title gave him the ability.
Once a decision was made, Lincoln took action. When he said “Make haste slowly,” he meant that we should show diligence when making a decision, but once it's made, we shouldn't delay. Lincoln did not hesitate to act once he was convinced swift action had to be taken.
Lincoln also had a process for making decisions.
To help him make a decision Lincoln would:
- Do everything he could to gain an understanding of all the facts; he desired to make the best choice.
- Get out of the office and out into the world; he would go and visit the troops, the people who would be most impacted.
- Consider every possible solution and every possible outcome; he cared about the results of his decisions.
- Filter his decision through the beliefs held by him and his team; he ensured his decisions were aligned with his core beliefs.
After Lincoln made his decision he would:
- Effectively communicate the decision; communication is key to building an effective team.
- Act; once a decision is made, you shouldn't delay.
Each of us can think like Lincoln and be decisive by following his example. Thankfully we're not trying to hold a country together at the same time! In Lincoln on Leadership, Donald Phillips said this of Lincoln,
He set his goals, preached his vision, and accomplished the mission.
To be great leaders, we must do the same.
Question: Which of the steps in Lincoln's process could you most easily put into action today? Share your decision-making steps with me in the comments below by clicking here!