Lincoln on Lean Leadership

The battery to my laptop seemed to die instantaneously on a recent flight.  My travels were taking me nowhere near an Apple store and I was unable to have one delivered before the return flight.  Out of desperation for something to do while in the air, I purchased the book Lincoln on Leadership.  I had heard good things about Donald Phillips’ book and am a big fan of our greatest president.  A quick look at the chapter headings told me that there would be several Lean Leadership lessons to be learned which I will gladly share here.

You probably recognize Abraham Lincoln as the US Civil War President.  Some don’t recognize just how bad it was for the incoming President or for the country.  No less than seven states succeeded from the Union just days before Lincoln’s inauguration.  They formed the Confederate States of America and elected their own President.  The Confederate States took control of the Mississippi River, all federal agencies in the South, and nearly all southern military forts and arsenal.

The Union Army was in shambles and had poor leadership.  The state militias were in even worse shape.  Things were so bad that Lincoln’s predecessor, President James Buchanan, declared that he was “the last President of the United States.”  Lincoln himself was not proven to be a great leader.  Lincoln came from country roots born in rural Kentucky and raised in an Indiana log cabin during pioneer times.  His father did not read or write and Lincoln himself had little formal education and had to take it upon himself to learn to even learn to read.  He was regarded as a second rate country lawyer with little leadership, political or military experience.  Even his own cabinet that he personally selected regarded Lincoln as a weak leader that they could push around.

Yet this country lawyer somehow holds a nation together, makes it stronger, and emancipates the slaves in the process.  It is no wonder that Abraham Lincoln is widely regarded as the best President in the history of the United States even 150 years after his death.

Stay tuned for great Lean Leadership lessons from our greatest president.  First up will be Honest Abe Goes to the Gemba!

Best regards,
Christian Paulsen
Lean Leadership
Written for


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About Christian Paulsen

Christian Paulsen is an Executive Consultant with 20 years of Lean Manufacturing. Chris adds value to organizations by driving process improvement and bottom line savings. Chris intends to help others by sharing the lessons learned after a quarter century of operational leadership, marriage, parenting, and even longer as a Cubs fan. Your comments on this blog are welcome. You can also connect with Chris via LinnkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook in the right sidebar. Chris welcomes your comments. Christian's professional services are available by contacting him through LinkedIn (right side bar)
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