Leadership Case Study (Part 4) – Evolution of Leadership

Abraham Lincoln vs. General George Meade

Case Study (Part 4) – Leadership Analysis

Abraham Lincoln was a next-generation change agent – a 20th-century leader who was well ahead of his time. Based on our research and analysis of Abraham Lincoln, he scored an exceptional 4.68 out of a possible 5.00 on our leadership assessment. Abraham Lincoln was self-aware of his moral convictions and was determined to limit the spread of slavery. He was situationally aware of the divisional strife in the country when he took office. For example, he wore a woman’s disguise for precautionary reasons, having received multiple death threats before his journey to Washington for his inauguration.

Lincoln fully anticipated a future without the immoral affliction of slavery and stood for freedom for all people. His moral vision and fearlessness to change the environment, both economically and culturally changed America forever. Lincoln knew that his idea of a nation without slavery would likely lead to civil war; however, he vowed to maintain the Union at all costs. He possessed and demonstrated high levels of charactercompetency, and presence and was known as one of the most trusted and poised presidents of the United States.

Similarly, Lincoln possessed integrity and humility, great skill as a statesman, and a tremendous ability to overcome adversity. Having grown up in extreme poverty, he lived in a log cabin and often walked barefoot in the snow because his family could not afford shoes. He failed in business multiple times, suffered a nervous breakdown, and lost eight elections. After each setback, his grit and tenacity allowed him to bounce back stronger. His wisdom emanated from his ability to plan, act, reflect, and learn from his experiences. Lincoln was also known for his tremendous presence and orator skills, but his emotional intelligence and understanding of people were his greatest assets.

Lincoln’s ability to strategize with others was a significant factor in winning the Civil War. He was the first true commander-in-chief. While being known for being reactive to situations rather than initiating action, he was decisive once he made up his mind. In Lincoln’s case, the times pick the leader as he had an ideal change agent identity that matched the North’s desire for cultural and psychological change. He used his expansive operational range to align military and civilian resources while using his personal power and ethical power to build relationship capital with his followers. While Lincoln was under tremendous political and economic pressure to end the war, his sense of morality would not let him yield.

Lincoln was elected to the presidency in 1860 as the 16th president and ran on a platform that ensured that any new states entering the Union would be free. At the time, the Southern States’ economy was mainly an agrarian society and depended on slave labor for their wealth. At the start of the war, the Confederates raised an army of 800,000 men. Meanwhile, the Union Army totaled approximately 2.1 million. Lincoln was a bitter enemy of the South, and his inauguration was the final straw that touched off armed conflict at Fort Sumter. Delivering the Emancipation Proclamation, he managed to help build momentum for the Union by broadening the meaning and purpose of the Civil War. Ultimately, he was successful in applying every process and accelerator to dramatically increase the pace of change and redefine America.

While the Union Army under General Grant and Sherman eventually generated momentum and ultimately won the Civil War, Lincoln allowed his personal security to lapse. His failure to control the environment led to his assassination on April 14th, 1865, at the Ford Theater in Washington, DC – just five days after the Civil War’s conclusion. His ability to build an organization and anti-slavery culture around him ensured the union of states would survive even after his death. Like most change agents, after the change has been fulfilled, it is time for them to go. Standing at 6 foot, 4 inches, the United States’ tallest president passed away at age 56 from his wounds, but his legacy stands for freedom for all people.

Next week, we will introduce our next season: The Great Railroad Strike of 1877: the first mass labor movement in the United States and the evolution of Unions.


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