Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Abraham Lincoln: Leadership Lessons

Today we celebrate President Abraham Lincoln's birthday.    In honor of the great 19th century leader, I thought that I would take a look at one important leadership lesson pertaining to him.    Doris Kearns Goodwin spoke to Harvard Business Review several years ago about her research on Lincoln.  She talked specifically about how he made the decision regarding the Emancipation Proclamation:

For example, for months Lincoln let his cabinet debate about if and when slavery should be abolished. Finally, though, he made up his mind to issue his historic Emancipation Proclamation to free the slaves. He brought the cabinet together and told them he no longer needed their thoughts on the main issue—but that he would listen to their suggestions about how best to implement his decision and its timing. So even though some members still did not support Lincoln’s decision, they felt they’d been heard. And they had been. When one cabinet member suggested that Lincoln wait for a victory on the field to issue the proclamation, Lincoln took his advice.

I take two key lessons away from this example.  First, Lincoln appears to have led a decision-making process that most advisers felt was fair, i.e. he not only gave them voice, but made them feel that their views had been considered genuinely and thoughtfully.   Second, Lincoln still gave them room to have input after he had made the final decision.  However, he didn't give them an opportunity to undo the decision or revisit the choice.  Instead, he brought them back into a dialogue about how to best implement his decision.  It turns out that they had a good suggestion regarding the relationship between his political move and a battlefield victory in the late stages of the Civil War.   Many leaders could use the time of announcing a decision to pivot the conversation with their team, away from WHETHER to do something to the issue of HOW to do it.  In that way, you can give them voice once again, and you can make others truly own the implementation process.  

1 comment:

Abraham said...

Abraham Lincoln in Quran
Read the story of Abraham Lincoln in Quran (words of the God) the holly book for Muslims since more than 1400 years ago