I hope all of you had a good holiday and managed to recharge a bit.
One of the things I did was to see the movie “Lincoln“. I’d encourage you to see it for a number of reasons. The acting is amazing but so too are the leadership lessons the film conveys. With apologies to my friend Geoff who wrote the very fine “Lead Like Ike” book, I think the leadership Lincoln shows beats Ike by half a century and is a great place to start this year’s business discussion.
I’ll state in advance that I recognize that the film grossly oversimplifies a very complicated time in our country’s history – the passage of the 13th Amendment which ends slavery although most of what you see is pretty accurate. I’d also encourage you to read the Doris Kearns Goodwin book “Team of Rivals” on which the movie is based. That said, what’s very clear is that Lincoln possessed some incredible leadership abilities.
First, he set clear goals – get the bill passed by a certain date. Second, while he left it to his team to figure out the particulars of how the team would get the necessary votes , he was very clear about one thing – there were to be no cash bribes paid in return for votes. Setting boundaries to go along with charging people with tasks is an often overlooked element of good leadership. Third – he was supportive and understanding until several members of the team became discouraged enough to argue against the attempt. At that point he became firm and inflexible, recognizing that while there are many roads to get to Rome the choice of destination was not a part of the discussion. Lastly, he stayed out of his team’s way for the most part right up until his personal influence was needed to sway some votes. He recognizes out loud that it is the power of the office that moves people, along with the strength of the cause and never confuses the power in those things with himself.
There’s a reason Honest Abe is so revered and this film help us to understand that. Along with the obvious reasons, his brilliance as a leader is also on my list. How about yours?