- Published: September 8, 2022
- Updated: September 8, 2022
- Language: English
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One of the most influential and prominent leaders in American History that I admire is President Abraham Lincoln. Most leaders who have raised the position of the President of the United States have used their abilities to influence others to follow them in working towards a shared common purpose. Abraham Lincoln stands out among U. S. Presidents as perhaps the most transformational President in U. S. history. He changed the American Course and was able to achieve something remarkable, changing history, and the culture of a Nation.
Few Presidents in American history had to face such peril and turmoil. President Lincoln was faced with a nation in moral crisis, at the brink of civil war. He displayed great courage and conviction with his position to end slavery and keep the union intact. His vision and actions forever changed and preserved our nation. His leadership has been studied and revered since his death. Abraham Lincoln was physically awkward, quiet, and abet demure. So how did he raise to become such a prominent leader?
This paper will explore his leadership style and characteristics to discover whether he was transactional, transformational, or perhaps a little of both. In the 1850’s the United States started expanding westward. The country was still split by the Mason Dixon line between the North and South. In 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act was passed into law which expanded Southern power by repealing Missouri compromise which had previously outlawed slavery. Since there was now no restriction of slavery in the new territories Northerners were faced with inequitable completion.
The South thrived due to the competitive advantage that slavery provided. Slave labor was extremely efficient and cost effective. Abraham Lincoln recognized that the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act not only gave the south an advantage in commerce but tips the scales of political power in favor of the south as well. The Western Expansion was enabling the South to manipulate the government in the southern interest, driving a deeper wedge between the North and the South.
Abraham Lincoln took the helm of the Republican Party, in an effort to abort the Democratic Parties power grabbing separatist agenda. (Richardson, 2010). Abraham Lincoln, as an attorney and leader was committed to his moral convictions and is regarded as one of the most ethical leaders in American history. He was self diffracting, and placed the welfare of other before his own gain. He believed all people, regardless of race, had the right, given to them under the constitution, of equality.
Lincoln painted a picture of what he believed America should be in 1859 during the Wisconsin Agricultural Fair. He expressed his belief of free labor, in that speech he said “ the just and generous, and prosperous system, which opens the way for all—gives hope to all, and energy, and progress, and improvement of condition to all” (Richardson, 2010, Para 22). In 1861, Abraham Lincoln was sworn in as the sixteenth President of the United States. His strong opposition to slavery disenfranchised the democratic south.
Shortly after he was sworn in the civil war between the North and the South began. The South viewed the newly elected Republican President and his opposition of slavery as a threat to southern prosperity. Lincoln understood that slavery could not continue to exist for both moral and economic reasons. He remained committed to his vision which inspired so many despite pressures from his military leaders because of the extreme loss of life suffered by both sides on the battlefield. Lincoln remained steadfast to the bigger picture.
He understood that the Union would lose far more if the North faltered. President Lincoln displayed authenticity and passion in holding his values and beliefs firmly in place. “ Authentic leaders do not compromise their values under pressure, but use them as a guide when faced with difficult situations” (Weiss, 2011, sec 2. 4). The Emancipation Proclamation of 1862 set forth that all slaves and men were forever free. It was Lincoln’s leadership and vision that led to the 13th Amendment. (Richardson, 2010).
President Lincoln’s ability to inspire those around him and his dedication to purpose greater that himself demonstrated that he was truly a transformational leader. Transformational leaders’ posses a charisma that enables them to influence, inspire, other. They are innovative forward thinkers who challenge those around them to be better. They are able to facilitate lasting change. Transformational leaders are “ motivated by strong internal values and ideals that enable them to influence and motivate followers to higher moral levels to achieve organizational goals” (Weiss, 2011, sec 2. ).
Perhaps it was because of Lincolns’ humble beginnings he was incredibly empathetic and socially aware. His ability to listen, understand, those around him and his selflessness put the nation’s needs above his own. His was incredibly loyal to those who worked for him accepting responsibility for mistakes and giving praise for their accomplishments. (Weiss, 2011) Emotional Intelligence has been recognized to be embraced by Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln’s self awareness and ability to control his emotions made him highly effective leader. One researcher attributed Abraham Lincoln’s enormous power as a president to emotional intelligence, not to IQ, charisma, or political ability” (Kauffman and Coutu, 2009).
Lincoln was a very people-oriented leader. On several occasions, Lincoln would go out onto the battlefield to talk to troops to help improve morale. Establishing a working relationship with his followers showed that President Lincoln had legitimate concern for the well-being of his people endearing him to the masses. Lincoln was an exceptional orator, who articulated his vision to all, inspiring a nation to raise and unite. Kauffman and Coutu, 2009). Abraham Lincoln was a servant leader. His unyielding commitment to human rights and the equitable treatment of all Americans changed the course of our country.
In time even the stoniest opponents relented to his vision. In my opinion President Lincoln was the greatest transformational leader in the history of the U. S. He has inspired so many Presidents that followed him including Franklin Roosevelt and fondly spoken of by President Obama He is often quoted and the Gettysburg address is still receipted by students to this day, reinforcing his vision which still pushes us forward today.
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