Les Patterson’s Monday Morning Boost: Lincoln’s unprecedented ability to unite

  • I’ve long been an admirer of President Abraham Lincoln. But it’s only recently I’ve come to understand his “unprecedented ability” to unite people, including his rivals, to accomplish the greater good.

    The movie Lincoln first introduced me to this unique aspect of our 16th president. I was fascinated as he united political rivals, in some case people who disliked each other, to create collaboration that brought an end to slavery.

    What I didn’t know until recently, the Lincoln was partially based on a book I’ve just been introduced to, Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.

    Daniel Day Lewis portraying Lincoln

    Goodreads provides a concise summary: “Goodwin makes the case for Lincoln’s political genius by examining his relationships with three men he selected for his cabinet, all of whom were opponents for the Republican nomination in 1860: William H. Seward, Salmon P. Chase, and Edward Bates. These men, all accomplished, nationally known, and presidential, originally disdained Lincoln for his backwoods upbringing and lack of experience, and were shocked and humiliated at losing to this relatively obscure Illinois lawyer. Yet Lincoln not only convinced them to join his administration—Seward as secretary of state, Chase as secretary of the treasury, and Bates as attorney general--he ultimately gained their admiration and respect as well. How he soothed egos, turned rivals into allies, and dealt with many challenges to his leadership, all for the sake of the greater good, is largely what Goodwin's fine book is about. Had he not possessed the wisdom and confidence to select and work with the best people, she argues, he could not have led the nation through one of its darkest periods.”


    Every leader is faced with the challenge of uniting a team. Rarely, however, are we faced with such extreme circumstances as Lincoln was. Yet, when we are in the midst of turmoil – personal, business, or otherwise – nothing else will seem as extreme to us.


    Lincoln just may be able to teach us something to help us get through our leadership crises, mild or otherwise, summarized here by Doris Kearns Goodwin:


    1)      Motivate oneself in the face of frustration, to withstand adversity and come through trials of fire.

    2)      Surround yourself with rivals who question your assumptions.

    3)      Acknowledge errors and learn from mistakes.

    4)      Possess the emotional intelligence to share credit for success.

    5)      Control emotions, even when angry.

    6)      Understand how to relax and recharge.

    7)      During the worst moments of crisis get out among the people.

    8)      Have a sense of timing.

    9)      Use the beauty of language, metaphors, and storytelling to communicate.


    Have a great Monday! Thanks for letting me share.


    Les Patterson


    p.s. Take 15 minutes today and enjoy Doris Kearns Goodwin share her insights on Lincoln’s leadership qualities.


    Les Patterson loves to share stories and the “Monday Morning Boost” is his way of sharing a story or two with family, friends, and clients. Les believes every person, business and organization has a story worth sharing. Since 1997 he has enjoyed finding compelling ways to share those stories through writing and producing radio commercials at the Cache Valley Media Group. Discover how he can help tell your story at www.CacheValleyMediaGroup.com. Feedback and comments are welcome at les@cvradio.com. ©2015, Les Patterson.  All Rights Reserved.