In a scene from the Steven Spielberg movie Lincoln, Mary Todd Lincoln tells her husband: "No one is loved as much as you by the people. Don't waste that power." Spoiler alert: He doesn't.
While the movie focuses on the passing of the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery, it also gives a lot of insight to Lincoln's strong leadership skills -- those things that have made him so admired.
While you may not be leading revolutionary change in the country, here are four leadership lessons from our 16th president on how to lead revolutionary change at your startup or small business.
1. Say no to 'Yes Men.' At a time in history when the United States was at war with itself, Lincoln surprisingly chose to fill his cabinet with a team of his rivals. These were men he considered to be the best and brightest minds in the country, and they were unafraid to challenge Lincoln and assert their opposition. A self-confident man, Lincoln welcomed strong opinions as it provoked thoughtful debate as well as inner reflection. It proved to be an important tactic during his presidency.
Rick Lepsinger, president of the New York City-based leadership consulting firm OnPoint, agrees: "Don't hire in your own image," he says. "Get comfortable with conflict and learn how to manage differences productively."
Lepsinger suggests that leaders not allow conflicts to fester, but bring them to the surface as soon as possible. He also recommends avoiding the overuse of compromise, looking instead for common ground and alternatives.
2. Be decisive.