Chapter 1: Get
Out of the office and Circulate Among the
mistake is that he isolates himself, &
nobody to see him;
and by which he does not know what is going on in the
very matter he is dealing with."
Lincoln's reason for
relieving Gen. John C. Fremont from his command in
Missouri (September 9, 1861)
Explain yourself in
writing and offer advice on how to solve
It is important that
the people know you come among them without
Seek casual contact
with your subordinates. It is as meaningful as a
formal gathering, if not more so.
Don't often decline
to see people who call on you.
Take public opinion
Be the very
embodiment of good temper and affability.
likes a compliment.
If your subordinates
can stand it, so can you. Set a good
You must seek and
require access to reliable and up-to-date
2: Build Strong Alliances
"A house divided
against itself cannot stand
our cause must be
entrusted to, and conducted by its own undoubted
friends - whose hands are free, whose
hearts are in the
work - who
do care for the result."
from "A House divided" speech, in which he accepted
the nomination for US senator at the Republican State
convention in Springfield, Illinois (June 16,
Wage only one war at
Spend time letting
your followers learn that you are firm, resolute, and
committed in the daily performance of your duty. Doing
so will gain their respect and trust.
personal dignity are sometimes wisely set
Invest time and
money in better understanding the ins and outs of
action can be modified to some extent, but human
nature cannot be changed.
compassionate and caring nature will aid you in
forging successful relationships.
when you extinguish
hope, you create desperation.
You must remember
that people who have not even been suspected of
disloyalty are very adverse to taking an oath of any
sort as a condition of exercising an ordinary right of
Chapter 3: Persuade Rather Than
sentiment, nothing can fail; without it, nothing can
succeed. Consequently he who molds public sentiment
goes deeper than he who enacts statutes or pronounces
Lincoln's remarks in
the first Lincoln-Douglas debate when examining the
influence Stephen A. Douglas was having on the public
(August 21, 1858)
grievances. Persuade your subordinates to compromise
whenever you can.
Use force only as a
Remember that your
followers generally want to believe that what they do
is their own idea and, more importantly, that it
genuinely makes a difference.
If you would win a
subordinate to your cause, first convince him that you
are his sincere friend.
Seek the consent of
your followers for you to lead them.
If you practice
dictatorial leadership, you prepare yourself to be
responsibility and authority by empowering people to
act on their own.
On issues that
affect your entire organization, conduct full and
frequent consultations with the heads of your various
A good leader avoids
issuing orders, preferring to request, imply, or make
Honesty and Integrity Are the Best
"I am compelled to
take a more impartial and unprejudiced view of things.
Without claiming to be your superior, which I do not,
my position enables me to understand my duty in all
these matters better than you possible can, and I hope
you do not yet doubt my integrity."
comments in a letter of support for General-in-Chief
Henry Halleck to a close friend who urged his
dismissal (May 26, 1863)
subordinates a fair chance with equal freedom and
when you make it to
the top, turn and reach down for the person behind
You must set, and
respond to , fundamental goals and values that move
You must be
consistently fair and decent, in both the business and
the personal side of life.
Stand with anybody
who stands right. Stand with him while he is right and
part with him when he goes wrong.
Never add the weight
of your character to a charge against a person without
knowing it to be true.
It is your duty to
advance the aims of the organization and also to help
those who serve it.
If you once forfeit
the confidence of your fellow citizens, you can never
regain their respect and esteem.
Chapter 5: Never Act Out of Vengeance or
"I shall do nothing
in malice. What I deal with is too vast for malicious
in a letter about the readmission of Louisiana to the
Union (July 28, 1862)
Never crush a man
out, thereby making him and his friends permanent
enemies of your organization.
No purpose is served
by punishing merely for punishment's sake.
always keep in mind
that once a subordinate is destroyed he ceases to
contribute to the organization.
People will be more
willing to seek an audience with you if you have a
It would not hurt
you much if, once in a while, you could manage to let
things slip, unbeknownst-like.
organization will take on the personality of its top
You should be very
unwilling for young people to be ruined for slight
Have malice toward
none and charity for all.
Touch people with
the better angels of your nature.
Chapter 6: Have the Courage to Handle Unjust
"Neither let us be
slandered from our duty by false accusations against
us, nor frightened from it by menaces of destruction
to the government, nor of dungeons to ourselves. Let
us have faith that right makes might, and in that
faith let us to the end dare to do our duty as we
statement of Lincoln's Cooper Institute Address, in
which he encouraged party members to hold fast to
their beliefs (February 27, 1860)
Refrain from reading
attacks upon yourself so you won't be
Don't be terrified
by an excited populace and hindered from speaking your
It's not entirely
safe to allow a misrepresentation to go
Remember that truth
is generally the best vindication against
do the very best you
know how - the very best you can - and keep doing so
until the end.
If you yield to even
one false charge, you may open yourself up to other
If both factions or
neither shall harass you, you will probably be about
right. Beware of being assailed by one and praised by
The probability that
you may fall in the struggle ought not to deter you
from the support of a cause you believe to be
Chapter 7: Be a Master of Paradox
"Take time and think
well upon this subject.
.Nothing valuable can be
lost by taking time
. Delay is ruining us
Time is everything
. Please act in view of
. Make haste slowly."
seemingly contradictory advice to different followers
in different situations (March 1861 - July
Make consistency one
of the main cogs in the machinery of your
Remember that it is
not best to swap horses when crossing
Don't surrender the
game leaving any available card unplayed.
Do less whenever you
believe what you are doing hurts the cause, and do
more whenever you believe doing more will help the
cause. Try to correct errors when they are shown to be
errors; and adopt new views so fast as they appear to
be true views.
You must come to
grips with the paradox of providing employee security
while also encouraging an environment for
When you are in deep
distress and cannot restrain some expression of it,
sit down and write out a harsh letter venting your
anger. But don't send it.
explanation to your enemies. What they want is a
squabble and a fuss; and that they can have if you
explain, and they can not have if you
Avoid major conflict
in the form of quarrels and arguments. You simply
don't have time for it.
Part III: Endeavor
Exercise a Strong Hand - Be Decisive
"Some single mind
must be master, else there will be no agreement in
Part of Lincoln's
firm stance regarding new elections in the State of
Arkansas (February 17, 1864)
organization is never wisely sacrificed to avoid
losing one or two small parts.
Take advantage of
confusion, desperation, and urgency to exercise strong
Seize the initiative
and never relinquish it.
Don't give up all
your key points of strength or the competition may
"beat out your brains."
never let your
immediate subordinate take action upon your
responsibility without consulting you
If you have a
subordinate who has a presidential chin-fly biting
him, don't knock it off.
When making a
decision, understand the facts, consider various
solutions and their consequences, make sure that the
decision is consistent with your objectives, and
effectively communicate your judgment.
compromise does not mean cowardice.
Try ballots first;
when ballots don't work, use bullets.
Chapter 9: Lead by Being Led
undertaking being a success, the honor is all yours;
for I believe non of us went farther than to
But what next? I suppose it will be
safer if I leave Gen. Grant and yourself to
Part of Lincoln's
response to General Sherman for his "Christmas gift" -
the capture of Savannah (December 26, 1864)
If you are a good
leader, when your work is done, your aim fulfilled,
your people will say, "we did this
Try not to feel
insecure or threatened by your followers.
parties work out their differences by bringing them
together and guiding their dialogue.
Always let your
subordinates know that the honor will be all theirs if
they succeed and the blame will be yours if they
Write letters to
your subordinates making the personal acknowledgment
that they were right and you were wrong.
subordinates come up with good ideas, let them go
ahead and try. But monitor their progress.
If your commanders
in the field can't be successful, neither can you or
your executive staff.
Never forget that
your organization does not depend on the life of any
The greatest credit
should be given to those in your organization who
render the hardest work.
Chapter 10: Set Goals and Be
"I think Lee's army,
and not Richmond, is your true objective
Fight him when opportunity offers. If he
stays where he is, fret him, and fret him."
to General Joe Hooker, who'd asked for permission to
advance on the Confederate capitol rather than engage
the enemy in combat (June 10, 1863)
Unite your followers
with a "corporate mission."
short-term goals that can be focused on with intent
and immediacy by subordinates.
those leaders who
achieve something at the head of one group will
eclipse those who do nothing at the head of a
sometimes it is
better to plough around obstacles rather than to waste
time going through them.
Leave nothing for
tomorrow which can be done today.
your war will not be
won by strategy alone, but more by hard, desperate
Your task will
neither be done nor attempted unless you watch it
every day and hour, and force it.
half-finished work generally proves to be labor
Chapter 11: Keep Searching Until You Find Your
"I can't spare this
man. He fights."
to critics who urged the dismissal of General Grant
after the battle of Shiloh, where Grant had been
rumored to be drunk (April 1862)
Choose as your chief
subordinates those people who crave responsibility and
Go out into the
field with your leaders, and stand or fall with the
If employees gripe
about one of your chief supervisors, and the
complaints are true, do not be afraid to remove
Give your followers
all the support you can, and act on the presumption
that they will do the best they can with what you give
managers a three-to five month grace period to see if
they will take action and perform
If they don't
perform adequately, ease them out of power gradually,
always giving them ample time to turn it
subordinates who keep piling up information without
ever really accomplishing anything.
Coach and counsel a
new executive so that he or she may get off on the
right foot. Remember, you want him to
Do not forget that
aggressive leaders tend to choose employees in their
Let the thing be
Chapter 12: Encourage Innovation
"Still the question
recurs 'can we do better?' The dogmas of the quiet
past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The
occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must
rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must
think anew, and act anew."
Lincoln, in his
Annual message to congress, exhorting its members to
join him in a united venture to be conducted by the
executive and legislative branches of government
(December 1, 1862)
When the occasion is
piled high with difficulty, rise with it. Think anew
and act anew.
confidence in your people when they fail.
subordinates know that you are always glad to have
If you never try,
you'll never succeed.
Except in matters of
broad policy, encourage subordinates to take action on
their own initiative, without waiting for
Remember that the
best leaders never stop learning.
with people who really know their business, and avoid
Be quick and
decisive at employing new advances and make every
attempt at getting new weapons into your soldiers'
Part IV: Communication
Master the Art of Public Speaking
speaking should be practiced and cultivated. It is the
lawyer's avenue to the public. However able and
faithful he may be in other respects, people are slow
to bring him business if he cannot make a
From Lincoln's notes
for a law lecture intended to advise younger lawyers
how best to succeed (July 1, 1850)
organization's best stump-speaker, with droll ways and
speaking is your avenue to the public.
Use a variety of
body language when you speak.
thoroughly for your public speaking
anything your write to be finished until published or,
if a speech, until you deliver it.
Remember that there
will be times when you should simply not speak. Say to
your listeners: "kindly let me be silent."
Try not to make
mistakes when you speak publicly. Everything you say
is intently heard. If you make a mistake it doesn't
merely affect you but the organization as well.
You should often
couple written documents with verbal discussions,
thereby catching the idea with two senses rather than
just one. Both you and your subordinates will remember
it better, even if you do not understand it
Chapter 14: Influence People Through Conversation
"They say I tell a
great many stories. I reckon I do; but I have learned
from long experience that plain people, take them as
they run, are more easily influenced through the
medium of a broad and humorous illustration than in
any other way
to a friend why he often related stories in the course
of normal conversation.
When you meet with
an individual, try not to part with any unpleasant
impression on either side.
Speak in simple and
familiar strains with people, without any pretension
of superiority. Leave people with the feeling that
they've known you all their lives.
Don't forget that
humor is a major component of your ability to persuade
A good laugh is good
for both the mental and physical digestion.
Remember that people
are more easily influenced through the medium of a
broad and humorous illustration than in any other
You will often avoid
a long and useless discussion by others or a laborious
explanation on your own part by a short story that
illustrates your point of view.
The sharpness of a
refusal or the edge of a rebuke may be blunted by an
appropriate story, so as to save wounded feelings and
yet serve the purpose.
Loyalty is more
often won through private conversation than in any
Chapter 15: Preach a Vision and Continually
"All honor to
Jefferson - who, in the concrete pressure of a
struggle for national independence, had the coolness,
forecast, and capacity to introduce
truth, applicable to all men and all
Part of a Lincoln's
praise for Thomas Jefferson, one of his early heroes,
to a Boston group that requested he speak there on
Jefferson's birthday. (April 6, 1859)
Provide a clear,
concise statement of the direction of your
organization, and justify the actions you
Everywhere you go,
at every conceivable opportunity, reaffirm, reassert,
and remind everyone of the basic principles upon which
your organization was founded.
can't be forced on the masses. Rather, you must set
them in motion by means of persuasion.
Harness your vision
through implementation of your own personal roving
When you preach your
vision, don't shoot too high. Aim lower and the common
people will understand you. They are the ones you want
to reach - at least they are the ones you ought to
renewal, call on the past, relate it to the present,
and then use them both to provide a link to the
You must realize
that the process of renewal releases the critical
human talent and energy necessary to insure
Effective Leadership Skills