Lincoln’s Lessons: Listen To and Value Others
Lincoln led by listening. A leader must not only have the skill to share their ideas, but to cultivate the ideas of others. This often includes the quality of empathy.
Lincoln took the time to cultivate personal relationships with his subordinates so he could learn from them. He showed them respect even when their opinions differed and he made it clear that he valued their opinions. Lincoln's emphasis on soliciting the ideas of others and his concern for them is illustrated well in a story that Paul Johnson records in his book Heroes .
“After the fall of Richmond, the Confederate capital, and on the same day Robert E. Lee finally surrendered, Lincoln went to see his secretary of state, with whom he often disagreed, and whom he did not particularly like. Seward had somehow contrived to break both his arm and his jaw. Lincoln found him not only bedridden but unable to move his head. Without a moment’s hesitation, the president stretched out at full length on the bed and, resting on his elbow, brought his face near Seward’s, and they held an urgent, whispered conversation on the next steps the administration should take. Then Lincoln talked quietly to the agonized man until he drifted off to sleep.”
Johnson concludes, “Lincoln could easily have used the excuse of Seward’s incapacity to avoid consulting him at all. But that was not his way. He invariably did the right thing, however easily it might have been avoided. Of how many other great men might this be said?”
Lincoln found time for individuals.
Of Related Interest:
Abraham Lincoln Was Born 200 Years Ago Today
Lincoln’s Lessons: Humor Communicates Like Nothing Else
Lincoln’s Lessons: Invest In Who You Are
Lincoln’s Lessons: Endure Unjust Criticism
Lincoln's Lessons: Think Things Through
Abraham Lincoln and His Times
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