The Decisive Leader

lincoln crop picI went to see Lincoln (the Movie) the other day.  It was amazing.  I actually saw it twice in a week.  The movie was loosely based on the book by Doris Kerns A team of rivals; the political genius of Abraham Lincoln.  Great book and I highly recommend every leader read the book and see the movie.  Lincoln’s leadership has been chronicled, hailed, and critiqued throughout the years.  He is by far my favorite of the presidents and he ranks in the top five of all time leaders in my book.   One of the reasons I look to Lincoln as a leader to exemplify is his ability to be decisive.  We can learn some things from Lincoln in being a decisive leader

1.    Know your position

There is a line in the movie where Lincoln passionately tells his cabinet that he is the president of the United States “clothed with immense power”.  Lincoln understood his position and the responsibility he had to make decisions for the future of the nation.  Too many times leaders do not take their position seriously or understand the authority they have.  Many leaders are reluctant to make decisions simply because they do not know their position or they are afraid they will offend someone.  This is a clear sign the leader does not understand her or her position.

2.    Know your team

Lincoln was a master at gathering the best and the brightest in a team.  His cabinet was made of his rivals in the Republican primary for President.  These men did not only compete with Lincoln, they also didn’t have much respect or regard for him.  Yet Lincoln chose Stanton, Welles, Seward, Chase, Bates, and others because they were the best for the job.  Lincoln could be very decisive because he knew his team and they would give him honest feedback.  They were devoted to the very principles and future this nation was founded on.  Leaders who are afraid of good debate or only gather team members who think like them or are yes men have difficulty being decisive or making good balanced decisions.

3.    Know the rules

Lincoln had an acute awareness of how the government worked and what the intent of the founding fathers, who wrote the rules, was.  He was able to write the emancipation proclamation and preserve the union within the confines of the constitution and the bill of rights simply because he understood the rules.  Leaders can make huge mistakes in decisions simply because they don’t know the rules.  Leaders can interpret the rules and confidently make decisions that have long lasting effects for the benefit of the organization, church, family, or community.

Question:  What decisions have you had to make recently?