13 Leadership Qualities of Abraham Lincoln

This morning I was reading the beginning of Leadership in Turbulent Times by Doris Kearns Goodwin, this week’s book of the week.  It’s the story of four American Presidents who brought transformable leadership qualities to the stage of our history. Abraham Lincoln, of course, being one of those leaders. Leadership is made of many things. Some say leaders are born. Some say leaders are grown. I say both. In reading the first chapter on Abraham Lincoln, I wrote down the qualities told through years of research by the historian Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Abraham Lincoln 

  1. Charisma
  2. Valued Story Telling
  3. A Profound Sense of Empathy
  4. Clear Understanding of Human Nature
  5. Strived for Clear and Concise Communication
  6. Valued Education, Continual Learner
  7. Resilience Through Failure
  8. Resolution to Succeed
  9. Led by Moral Courage
  10. Willing to Acknowledge Error
  11. Used Good Humor Against Direct Attacks
  12. Developed Sense of Timing
  13. Reverence for the Law (but also sought to change it where necessary)

Here are a few quotes about Lincoln that really stuck out with me.

“‘Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed, is more important than any other one thing.’ – Abraham Lincoln”¹


“…he feared the in the chaos of moblike behavior, men of the likes of ‘an Alexander, a Caesar, or a Napoleon’ would likely seek distinction by boldly setting themselves ‘to the task of pulling down.’ Such men of ‘towering’ egos, in whom ambition is divorced from the people’s best interests, were not men to lead a democracy; they were despots.”²

In school we memorize dates of history only touching briefly on the ‘whys’ of history. One of the greatest gifts we have as adults is to continually seek answers and find our ‘whys’. It is so easy to squander our time on the so called necessities of the day. However, it is the vision of those from our history that have afforded us the freedoms and luxuries of our present day. They’ve also given us the gift, not afforded to them, of past experience that we can all grow and learn from.

Sarah Jackson

Vigilant Poster Girl


  1. Leadership in Turbulent Times by Doris Kearns Goodwin pg 15
  2. Leadership in Turbulent Times by Doris Kearns Goodwin pg 19


  1. Pingback: Wednesday’s Book of the Week ~ Leadership in Turbulent Times by Doris Kearns Goodwin – Vigilant Poster Girl

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