Abraham Lincoln
Leadership Case Study

Abraham Lincoln Leadership Case Study is a part of Leadership Stories, a series of biographies of great leaders in history that have impacted the world in a huge way.

Abraham Lincoln Leadership
Who was He?

Abraham Lincoln is the 16th President of the United States and deemed by many scholars as the greatest President of the United States. He led the Republicans to defeat the Confederates who were challenging for a democratic United States.

As President, he built the Republican Party into a strong national organization, and abolished slavery within the Confederacy.

A Short History

Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809, to Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks in a small town in Kentucky. Lincoln’s childhood had been full of events, with his family having to be forced to be moved to Indiana due to them losing the rights to their land in Kentucky.

Lincoln only spent 18 months in formal school but much of his education was from reading himself. Lincoln was a really talented person, able to wrestle, and a skilled axe wielder. He could also very talented in storytelling and often entertained a lot of his friends in meetings.

Lincoln began his political career at the young age of 23, and 5 years later, he began his first protest against slavery. Also, he protested against the war in Mexico, saying that President Polk was doing it for his own glory.

This speaking against the President caused him to lose his footing the political scene, but he would spend the next several years speaking against slavery as a citizen.

Lincoln would be twice an unsuccessful candidate for election to the U.S. Senate before his election as the 16th President of the United States.

As he would become the President of the United States, many states who would disapprove of his appointment made it clear that they would leave the Union. These states became the Confederate States of America.

The Union and the Confederates would eventually cause the American Civil War. This war would last for 4 years, and end with the surrender of General Lee and the Confederate armies.

He would spend most of his time after the war to reconstruct the United States and rally the people once again together through his speeches and rhetorics.

Lincoln would later be assassinated by an actor named Booth while he was attending a play.

Abraham Lincoln
Leadership Lessons

1. Don’t give up

Abraham Lincoln showed the power of persistence as he continued to run for positions in the U.S Senate even though he was already rejected twice. This persistence paid off when he became the 16th President of the United States.

Your strength as a leader and as a person shows in your persistence in pursuing a goal and a vision. Lincoln wanted to see slavery abolished in the US, and he kept at it until it happened late in his life.

Abraham Lincoln teaches us that if you have a dream or a vision, pursue it and with persistence, one day you will get there. The important thing is never to give up, and never give in. 

2.Having the desire to learn

Although Abraham Lincoln never went through a lot of formal schooling, he never lost the desire to learn; and it showed in his immense interest in reading and during the war; a great curiosity about war strategy.

This desire made him a great public speaker and also one of the most quoted person in history. He had so much wisdom that people today still quote him, and scholars consider him the most excellent of all the US Presidents.

It doesn't matter if you have formal schooling or not. A desire to learn is what is key to your continual growth and influence in the world. With knowledge comes creativity, wit, wisdom to engage and influence your world. So as a leader, if you want your sphere of influence to increase, you need to have the same spirit of learning. (Read more about growth in my free ebook chapter Developing a Lifestyle of Learning)

3. Build Character

Most of Abraham Lincoln's quotes revolve around the development of a man's character. He placed a lot of emphasis not on a man's personality, but on a man's character: his persistence, his values, his courage.

This is very different from the culture we live in. In our culture of personality, celebrities with exorbitant lifestyles are exalted and idolized. They are constantly in the media, being upheld as role models for all to follow.

In a time like this, we must become leaders that value and use people of character like Abraham Lincoln did, and not fall prey to the influence of popular media. 

Related Books on
Abraham Lincoln Leadership

Best Quotes from
Abraham Lincoln Leadership

A friend is one who has the same enemies as you have.

A house divided against itself cannot stand. . All my life I have tried to pluck a thistle and plant a flower wherever the flower would grow in thought and mind.

Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.

Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?

America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.

Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up, and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable - a most sacred right - a right, which we hope and believe, is to liberate the world.

As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy.

As our case is new, we must think and act anew.

Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.

Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.

Don't worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition.

Everybody likes a compliment.


Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.

Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.

He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help.

I care not much for a man's religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it.

I do not think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.

I do the very best I know how - the very best I can; and I mean to keep on doing so until the end.

I don't like that man. I must get to know him better.

I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice.


I hope to stand firm enough to not go backward, and yet not go forward fast enough to wreck the country's cause.

I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.

I walk slowly, but I never walk backward.

I will prepare and some day my chance will come.

If there is anything that a man can do well, I say let him do it. Give him a chance.

If you look for the bad in people expecting to find it, you surely will.

Important principles may, and must, be inflexible.

In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.

It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt.

Lets have faith that right makes might; and in that faith let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.


Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.

My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.

Some single mind must be master, else there will be no agreement in anything.

Tact is the ability to describe others as they see themselves.

That some achieve great success, is proof to all that others can achieve it as well.

The way for a young man to rise is to improve himself in every way he can, never suspecting that anybody wishes to hinder him.

These men ask for just the same thing, fairness, and fairness only. This, so far as in my power, they, and all others, shall have.

Towering genius disdains a beaten path. It seeks regions hitherto unexplored.

Whatever you are, be a good one.

When I am getting ready to reason with a man, I spend one-third of my time thinking about myself and what I am going to say and two-thirds about him and what he is going to say.

You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.

You cannot build character and courage by taking away a man's initiative and independence.

You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.

Video on 
Abraham Lincoln Leadership

This is a youtube video with actors doing the famous Gettysburg Address.

Other Links

Wikipedia: A highly detailed account of Abraham Lincoln's life
Whitehouse.gov:A biography of the life of Abraham Lincoln

Other Political Leaders

»Lee Kuan Yew
Lee Kuan Yew was the first and longest serving Prime Minister of Singapore; and it was his leadership that brought Third World Singapore into a thriving metropolitan city in a stunning 3 decades.

» Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela was the first Black President of South Africa and he was one of the most instrumental figures that helped end apartheid in South Africa. After his term as president, Nelson Mandela went on to become an advocate for a variety of social and human rights organizations.

» Martin Luther King Junior
Martin Luther King Junior was an Americian Baptist preacher, an activist and a prominent leader in the American civil rights movement. His greatest work was probably to fight for the civil rights of the African-American people.

» Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln is the 16th President of the United States and deemed by many scholars as the greatest President of the United States. He led the Republicans to defeat the Confederates who were challenging for a democratic United States.

» George Washington
George Washington is the first President of the United States and is known as the “father of the country.” Before he stepped up as President of the United States, he was the military commander in chief of the then US forces who drove out the British from America.

» Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was the head and leader of Nazi Germany who started the World War II. He was most known for his for his central leadership role in the rise of fascism in Europe, World War II and The Holocaust.

» Barack Obama
Barack Obama is the 44th President of the United States, having taken office in 2009 after winning the electoral campaign against John McCain. He is also the first African American to have taken the office of the President in the US.

» Colin Powell
Colin Powell is an American statesman and a retired four-star general in the United States Army. He was the 65th United States Secretary of State serving under President George W. Bush. He also served as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Gulf War.

» Tony Blair
Tony Blair is a British Labour politician who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 2 May 1997 to 27 June 2007. He is one of the most respected and admired world leaders in the last 50 years.

Return from Abraham Lincoln Leadership to Political Leaders 

Return from Abraham Lincoln Leadership to Home Page


Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.

Get empowered with
everyday leadership.

Discover the six attributes that make leaders great and learn how you can develop them in your personal and professional life! 

Purchase this book at US$9.95 today!

Sign Up Today!

Every month, I write to you to share with you about my thoughts, some great articles and resources on leadership as well and I know it will greatly benefit you.

Sign up today and download a free leadership ebook worth USD 9.95!

what others say

Let me begin by saying my deepest thanks to you for visiting this website. Your words of encouragement never fail to inspire and push me further to build this website to be a blessing to more people.

I have only skimmed over the website and the e-book so far, but what I've read was surprisingly deep for a non-commercial and easily accessible product. 
John, Germany

Hello Yihan, I am very grateful for your book about leadership. It is very exciting and amazing. It's encouraging and it gives us all hope. 
-Radovanka, Serbia

I am compelled to write you personally and say how excited I was to discover your website. Even though I have found many websites on leadership, yours stand out because of your Leadership Movies section. 
Emmanuel Lopez

I have stumbled across your website a few times in my research and I wanted to commend you for the work you are doing. Your site is a great resource for leaders! 
Johnny, United States

If you have feedback you would like to give, please visit Contact Me and I would love to hear from you. Really.