Abraham Lincoln Leadership Style

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Compare and Contrast: Lincoln on Leadership

The books assigned for this course have been great to read. Each book is similar but go into depth on different subjects. In the book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John C. Maxwell explains each law and gives examples to better understand the law. In the book Leadership: Theory and Practice, Peter G. Northouse explains key theories and practices to explain many forms of leadership. The book Lincoln on Leadership is based on the life of Abraham Lincoln during the civil war and how he handled leadership at critical moments during the war. In the book Lincoln on Leadership, Donald T. Phillips gives us examples of Abraham Lincoln’s principles. Most of Lincoln’s principles are similar to the principles in the books The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership and Leadership: Theory and Practice.


Abraham Lincoln was arguably the best President of the United States. In the book Lincoln on Leadership, Phillips writes how Lincoln would connect with the general public to show his leadership. He would spend time with troops, visit the ill, and “spent more time out of the White House than he did in it” (Phillips, 1992, pg.19). This reminds me of the Law of Connection from the book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. The law of connection relates to Lincoln’s principle because Maxwell states that when you build a connection with your followers, “you develop credibility with people” (Maxwell, 2007, pg.116). Maxwell talks about how President Regan made similar connections and how he was admired by people due to his ability to connect with others. Lincoln’s principle also relates to the Trait approach in the Leadership: Theory and Practice book. Northouse writes about Sociability in the Trait approach. He writes about a university president named Michael Hughes, who would “take time to write personal notes to faculty, staff and students to congratulate them on their success” (Northouse, 2016, pg.26). Hughes built a personal connection with people and they recognized him as approachable leader. An approachable leader is a great leader because people trust the leader to fix issues or give advice/guidance. This is one thing all three books have in common.

There is a chapter in Lincoln on Leadership called “Lead by Being Led.” In this chapter, Lincoln was in the middle of commanding the war. Some generals would make mistakes and President Lincoln “let his generals that if they failed, he failed too” (Phillips, 1992, pg.103). He let the generals do their jobs because he trusted their judgements. This reminds me of the Law of Empowerment, from the book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. In the book, Maxwell gives us the example about Henry Ford not empowering others and almost lead to the downfall of the company. Henry Ford had many barriers which caused his company to fall behind against competition. Henry Ford II empowered others by bringing another leader named Ernie Breech from the General Motors company to bring the company back up, which he successfully did. Henry Ford II recognized Breech’s ability and let him lead. Henry Ford led by being led.

According to Maxwell, influence is the true measurement of leadership. When a leader can effectively influence’s his peers, it will motivate them. In the book Lincoln on Leadership, Phillips states that “the power to motivate followers resides almost solely on the ability to communicate effectively” (Phillips, 1992, pg.160). Lincoln was able to communicate with anyone and influence his followers. The ability to communicate effectively is a skill that every great leader needs to have. In the book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, the Law of Influence talks about how influence can motivate others. Maxwell writes about Mother Teresa, who influenced over four thousand members and volunteers for her organization called Missionaries of Charity. Mother Teresa wasn’t a rich or wealthy woman, she did not have political power either. She became a strong leader by her ability to influence others. Maxwell states that “she was probably the most respected person on the planet at the time” (Maxwell, 2007, pg. 13). She was probably seen as the most respected person on the planet due to how many people she influenced around the world. She was known around the world and respected by other religions.

She had referent power, which is power that comes from character. Maxwell states that “true leadership always begins with the inner person” (Maxwell, 2007, pg. 17). I believe this is the best statement in the book because I feel this is very true. A person that has good character is more likely to influence others. A person can also influence people in a bad way, such as Adolf Hitler. According to Leadership: Theory and Practice, Hitler had coercive power, which is power from having the ability to punish others. Hitler was a very powerful person that influenced others in a bad way. I believe the only reason he was able to influence others, was through his positional power, not from his character. President Lincoln was able to influence powerful people and the working citizen. He had great character and people were able to recognize his as a great leader. The other books connect Lincoln’s actions and give understanding on how he was able to influence others.


All these books have been very informative. I like how we were assigned to read the other books before reading Lincoln on Leadership. As I read it, I was able to connect the other books to Lincoln’s principles. The book that it connected the most with Lincoln on Leadership was The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. I feel that most of Lincoln’s principles were one of the Laws from Maxwell’s book. The book Leadership: Theory and Practice had some theories similar to Lincoln’s principle that covers the general definition of a theory. Maxwell gave his take on leadership in his book. All these books gave me a solid understanding of leadership.


Maxwell, J. C. (2007). The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.
Northouse, P. G. (2016). Leadership: Theory and Practice. Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications, Inc.
Phillips, D. T. (1992). Lincoln on Leadership. New York, New York: Hachette Book Group, Inc.

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Abraham Lincoln Leadership Style. (2020, Apr 28). Retrieved February 22, 2024 , from

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