Leadership Series: Inspiration Behind the Lincoln Room

A Memorable Leader

As our conference room name tour continues, we move to a memorable leader in American history – Abraham Lincoln. Thousands of books have been written about our 16th president and you’re likely familiar with his inspiration and the incredible impact he had on our nation. Therefore, I’ll skip the history lesson and focus on the areas of the Interstates Leader Model that I see reflected in Abraham Lincoln’s leadership.

One of the first ‘deep-dive’ books I read about Abraham Lincoln was Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns. The book provides a captivating look into the construction of Lincoln’s Presidential Cabinet, where Lincoln sought out his chief political rivals for critical advisory positions. One of the competencies of the Interstates Leader Model is relates with others. The core of this idea focuses on seeking out and connecting with others who have different view points. When Lincoln became president, there was likely some tension between him and his three primary rivals. After he won, it would have been easy for Lincoln to surround himself with supporters. However, those three rivals became Lincoln’s Secretary of State (William Seward), Secretary of Treasury (Salmon Chase) and Attorney General (Edward Bates). Lincoln knew that working with his former presidential rivals would contribute to his vision of a house no longer divided.

Book Smart, Street Smart, and Muck to Clarity

Other Interstates Leader Model competencies Lincoln embodied are related to strategy. More specifically, what we refer to as book smart, street smart, and moves from muck to clarity. Lincoln was famously born in a one-room log cabin and was primarily self-educated. Despite his lack of formal education, Lincoln developed a love for reading. Growing up, nearly all of his learning came from books. Lincoln also learned from the “School of Hard Knocks.” Doors didn’t open themselves for a self-taught son of a farmer from Kentucky. Instead, Lincoln had to learn the power of persuasion and timing.

The process of the Emancipation Proclamation is a fascinating case in change management. Because of the proclamation, focus of the war shifted from preserving the Union to the freedom of slaves. Lincoln waited to issue the proclamation until after the Union victory at Antietam as this provided momentum for the controversial move. Most of his cabinet opposed the proclamation and felt it was too radical. Lincoln’s vision and natural ability to overcome obstacles while issuing the Emancipation Proclamation directly paved the way for the abolition of slavery in the United States.

Leading the Interstates way means being open to other perspectives, rather than surrounding yourself with all like-minded people. It also means pursuing the right path, even if it isn’t easy.

Keep leading the Interstates way!


Mike Meyers, Interstates Chief Information Officer


Check out our previous Leadership Series post:

Leadership Series: Inspiration Behind the Wythe Room


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